Stop, Collaborate, and Listen: How Emergency Alerts Came to Be

by Rachelle Avery on October 07, 2016

Earlier this year, we embarked on an exciting journey as we started development on an emergency alert module for our customers. We launched it on a trial basis, allowing customers to test it, provide feedback, and shape its future. Our goal was simple: build a module that truly reflects what our customers need, want, and value. Who better to provide product direction than our customers themselves? So, we launched version 0 of the module, keeping the design to a minimum and collecting customer input before developing it further.

CollaborationThe response was incredible! We received such valuable insight into our customers' everyday experiences. So, what did we learn? Overall, our customers wanted us to leverage our web expertise to build a best-in-class website notification system, and we made it happen with version 1 of Emergency Alerts. Throughout the process, we learned what is truly important to our customers, and we spent months incorporating their feedback into the product.

Here are the top 5 elements our customers cared about the most: 

  1. Safety. Campus safety is absolutely critical, and it's up to our customers to notify students, faculty, and staff when an emergency arises. Your website is the location everyone visits when searching for information. Emergency Alerts was created to ensure our customers' websites are ready for this challenge.
  2. Speed. When an emergency hits, there is no time to waste. Every second is valuable, and our customers need a tool that is simple, yet efficient. That's why we removed any obstacles that could deter getting the message out quickly. Emergency Alerts' UI is straightforward and intuitive, allowing users to post alerts with ease. 
  3. Updates. Emergencies are fluid, and changes occur hour by hour. To avoid breaks in communication, Emergency Alerts allows you to update notifications at any time.Additionally, all updates can be automatically listed on a separate webpage, so visitors can see the history of alerts in a single location. 
  4. Style. One size does not fit all. As we gathered feedback, our customers expressed the importance of retaining a unified brand, even in the face of a crisis. Therefore, Emergency Alerts comes with multiple styling options. You may choose to display a popup window or an announcement bar. Colors and fonts can be customized, so that the alerts are an extension of your brand.    
  5. Archives. In an emergency, archiving messages often takes a back seat to more pressing communication needs. However, the ability to review messages after an emergency dissipates is important. With Emergency Alerts, all notifications can be archived, so you always have a central location to view previous alerts.

We will continue to partner with our customers to refine and polish the module, and we plan to take a similar development approach with future features. Thanks to all the OU Campus users that helped us develop Emergency Alerts… your participation means the world to us!

 

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