English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

Digital inclusion – Going mobile

United Welsh has developed a new app for tenants on mobile phones and tablets. Louise Taggart explains the thinking


The decision to create an app for our tenants was the next logical step for United Welsh. When we looked at how our main website was accessed, we found that only 33 per cent of visits were from traditional desktops or laptops; the other 67 per cent were from tablets or smart phones. Our tenants clearly want to interact with us at a time and place which fits around their lives so we needed a more mobile-friendly solution.


The tenant web portal for our website and app, which have been designed by Housing Insight using Pan Connect, allows tenants to do a range of things including: update contact details; view important tenancy documents; see live rent balances and statements; make a payment; report repairs; and see what community events and projects are happening in their area.


The webportal will be live on our website from January and the app will be available in the Google Play store and Apple app store for free from February. Throughout the design process we consulted with tenants as well as different departments at United Welsh on what should be included. We also had a tenant group test the webportal before going live which gave us valuable feedback and allowed us to make it as tenant-friendly as possible.


As part of our digital inclusion strategy we are targeting tenants that are not online and offering them free training, affordable equipment schemes and the use of free wifi which we’ve installed in the shared areas of all of our communal schemes.


We also wanted to make sure that we did not forget about the tenants that are already online. Tenants now and in the future will expect us to offer digital services that already come as standard with many other online activities such as shopping, online banking and government services.


The ease of use of the app and webportal will also allow tenants who are new to computers to access the same services as more experienced computer users. With the low cost of tablets and the increase in free public wifi in many places, getting online is easier than ever before.


One key issue that still remains is motivating people to go online. We have found that this works best if we find positive reasons to go online like contacting family and saving money rather than people feeling forced into digital by default services like universal credit.


We have recently started providing mobile IT lessons in the community using our brand new ‘Information Station’ van.


With wifi, comfy seats and the ability to travel to any area, we have been using the van to access communities across our 5,000+ properties to ensure nobody is left behind. We also use this as a chance to let tenants know about the app and show them how to use it. All frontline staff will be trained in how to download and use the app so they can help as many tenants as possible sign up.


Louise Taggart is digital inclusion officer at United Welsh Housing Association

Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »