6 mins

How Might We design the ideal hyperlocal search categories to help people find their ideal local choir?

September 4, 2023

As part of our user centred approach to the design of Choirslist, we've tried to involve our target community of choirs, as well as run tests with prospective choir singers.

As a reminder, Choirslist is an online choir directory aiming to make it easier to find and join a choir that suits you. As well as creating a connection across the wider choir community. We have started the Choirslist journey by launching in London first with a view to expand the concept nationally next year. 

One of the biggest features of a choir directory is the search feature, so as part of the design process we ran a consultation with registrants of Choirslist London.  Now we know this is one perspective, that of the organisers, and the whole picture will come from the actual users searching.  But we felt to give choirs the listing that is representative of them, we wanted to properly understand how they perceived the search task, which is also an indication of what they wanted to project about their choirs.

Search category consultation

We sent to over 100 participants and we received over 50 responses. 

This was an anonymous survey, so not especially scientific, but as a category consultation was designed to help validate some of our early design assumptions, and also fill in any missing information. We included 7 questions and the results can be summarised as follows:

Q1.What kind of criteria should be included in the search? 

Many of our early registrants asked about our search criteria, so we knew we needed to dig a little deeper into this. When we asked choir organisers to list all the criteria that was important to them, adding any we had missed.  

The list was extensive, with the 5 leading criteria being: 

  • Rehearsal locations (94%)
  • Rehearsal time and day (92%) 
  • Type of choir (90%)
  • Type of music (90%)
  • Audition requirements (88%)

There may be no surprises there, but few existing directories have this level of information, so this is something we will definitely include in the search and it has validated our assumptions in our build. 

Other considerations for search included: 

  • Membership Price (77%)
  • Size of choir (73%)

In addition to the criteria listed, in the other category, the one item that appeared most was the option to list the number of concerts per year - perhaps no surprise again as these take an enormous amount of effort from organisations as well as demanding commitment from the  members. We agree this kind of commitment may be important to know so it is something we might be able to include. 

Q2. What kind of choir would you describe yourself?

We knew it was important for choirs to describe themselves accurately and we wanted to find out just how they did that.  Here the largest response was “Community Choir”, making up 45% of the respondents. 47% of responses included an ‘other’. 

We might take from this that many choirs categorise themselves in a couple of different ways. We learnt that some choirs identify themselves with providing an organised singing opportunity to the community whilst others define themselves by whom the service is aimed at. 

For example we found out that some choirs are simply defined by who their membership base consists of. Whilst other choirs categorise themselves by the repertoire that they sing, whilst others are a lot more varied.

Given the complexity we are considering introducing a primary and optional secondary classification field.

We knew it was important for choirs to describe themselves accurately and we wanted to find out just how they did that.  Here the largest response was “Community Choir”, making up 45% of the respondents. 47% of responses included an "Other". 

Q3.Each choir’s listing will show the 'type of music' sung in a choir. But what kind of music do we include?

We learnt that 66% of the choirs who responded list “Classical”  amongst their repertoire. 

64% listed “Contemporary”. 

Quite surprisingly, over 50% of the responses included A Capella as part of their repertoire. 

After reading these responses we have decided that each choir will be able to include up to a total of 5 music genres as part of their listing on the site, and we’ll see how this works for the visitors and the choirs.

We also decided to include a ‘Mixed’ repertoire option as many choirs present an eclectic mix of music, and variety might be something that prospective singers are looking for.

Q4. What should we include when talking about membership requirements?

Only 33% of the choirs that responded said they audition their members. The majority (66%) said that there were no audition requirements. We learnt that whilst it is not essential to be a confident singer or able to read music, for some non-audition choirs, this is a strong advantage and something to consider before joining. 

We’ll look at this, but this may be too specific a search criteria. However we aim to give each choir an additional space to describe their specific membership requirements to prospective members via their Choirslist listing, so any important information like this can be covered.

Q5. What kinds of new members you might like to attract?

We had an inkling that the choir community, in general, would like to be able to reach more people - and of course the answers reflected this.

Every one of the responses were looking for new members of some description. It can be a real challenge to let the world know your choir exists, let alone looking for new members. Part of what Choirslist has to offer is the opportunity for your choir to be found by a wider audience. This will help with some of the heavy lifting when it comes to providing a platform for your choir, getting people excited about the benefits of singing and joining a choir.

What surprised us was that no respondents anticipated being full and needing to manage a waitlist. So this isn’t something we will worry about for now. 

The other interesting learning is whether we can help people find specific voice types.  We’re going to think about how to help with this, and come back with some solutions later in the year.

Q6. Should we consider any other detailed search criteria for your choir on London Choirslist?

We could tell from these responses that people were really excited about how Choirslist could benefit their choirs. They were eager to give feedback in order to make the service as helpful and relevant to the choir community as possible.

Choirslist’s overall aim is to create a platform which is easy to find and accessible. For many people one of the most important things about being part of a choir, is the opportunity to be around like minded people, to socialise and have a bit of fun. A few responses thought it would be useful to have a search option for people who were looking specifically for a choir with a thriving social scene.

We found that performing responsibilities and venues were a key factor, ranging from how many performances per year through to where prospective members could expect to perform. 

We learnt that some choirs are expected to perform without their sheet music, allowing for such things as choreography.  We also know that for many choirs, attracting some younger members is both important and challenging, and again this is something we are going to think about how we can innovate in this area.

Thankyou to all choir organisations who took part in this consultation!

We were thrilled with the response rate to this consultation, indicating that the London choir community is really engaged with what Choirfarm is trying to achieve with the first Choirslist.  

The answers and suggestions from respondents have been so useful in helping us understand how organisers see the problem of describing their choir to prospective members, and therefore helping us consider how we might manage a search for them.   

We have validated some of our original assumptions, we have added detail to others and have made changes to some areas and dropped some ideas altogether for now.

We also know that this consultation is only part of the story - we still have to launch our first version in London and see how well it performs and get more feedback from end users. But we also hope that should Choirslist London work well for the singers and the choirs, then we can build on these learnings and launch more regional listings later in the year.

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