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How members’ feedback is shaping the future of Wild Things

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How members’ feedback is shaping the future of Wild Things

By Rob Bathgate on 28th April 2022 News

How members’ feedback is shaping the future of Wild Things

A hut older than the trail directory!

Wild Things means different things to different people. To some it’s a community, to some it’s a trail directory, to others it’s the (totally worth it!) VIP member discounts

Wild Things is the accumulation of lots of ideas that evolved into a smorgasbord of great offerings. This variety is a strength but it’s also a challenge for me, the one guy trying to run it all. Where should I best spend my time to keep Wild Things humming? What do Wild Things members value most? What do they need? What would make Wild Things even better?

Questions like these informed the survey that went out at the end of last year. I was blown away by the responses. It was obvious that people put a lot of thought into their feedback. 

Before we dive into it, here are some of the comments that made me feel so damn grateful to you all:

Without exaggeration, Wild Things helped me fall in love with running about 3 years ago, especially trail running. The Directory gives me the confidence to source trails to run with friends or solo, wherever I am in the country, and the Challenges have me hooked! The community is awesome. Literally life-changing. Thankyou x

You guys are awesome. I needed a pack for running and I immediately went to the wild things store and saw Mal had endorsed one as being good, so I just bought it, his opinion, and the whole wild things site carries big influence with me and I can trust what you guys say. I can’t say that with other shops or sites. Thanks for your efforts, an awesome asset and I think you’ve saved a lot of people from having bad experiences on the trails with your trail directory, cheers

You’re awesome! I’ve been a member of this community from my first trail half to now when I’m training for my first Miler. I wouldn’t be here without this community, and I feel like I’ve watched it grow with me. Words can’t express how grateful I am for Wild Things.

Rob I was a bit upset when Mal left and to be honest you are amazing for the club. Keeping it sharp and appealing with plenty of energy keep it up!!!

You are my happy place 😄

You do an awesome job, if it wasn’t for Mal, Sal and yourself trail and mountain running wouldn’t be where it is in NZ today without Wild Things. Keep it up.

Aw, love you guys too.

Right, that’s the warm fuzzies. Now to the survey.

What do Wild Things members value most?

We asked different questions in different ways. We had over 1,100 responses so there were loads of different answers. However, there was a strong theme throughout the survey results.

Across the hundreds of various answers and comments, the thing that people most consistently said they valued was information and maps.

Overwhelmingly, members rated the Trail Directory as the most valuable Wild Things feature. (They also had loads of suggestions for improving the Peak and Trail directories… more about that soon.)

Now, egg-on-face, we made an oversight in the survey by asking how often you’d used the trail and peak directories in the last 30 days … smack in the middle of the Auckland Covid lockdown. Sorry Auckland, must’ve had Bay of Plenty blinders on with that one. 

Even with that error, it was obvious across all of the responses, including those from Auckland, that the Trail Directory is the jewel in the Wild Things crown.

What does this tell us?

There are as many different opinions as there are members, but I think it’s safe to make four general conclusions from the survey results.

  • Wild Things members are generally pretty happy with how it’s going.
  • There are loads of different and exciting things that I could focus on to make Wild Things even better.
  • The most important thing to get right is the quality of our online resources.
  • The Trail Directory is the best place to start.

Which means (drum roll)…

2022 is the year of the directory upgrade!

The Trail Directory and its younger sibling the Peak Directory are beloved work horses that have done everyone proud to this point. Now it’s time for a do-over.

Here are some of the things I’ll be working on...

  • Make ‘em mobile-friendly. It’s no secret that the current directory interface is a little bit crap on your phone. That’s because we built the first directory seven years ago when some of us still had Nokias.
  • Speed up the page loading and site navigation. I want to see directories with smooth scrolling like refreshing water slipping down your throat on a hot mountaintop after an epic climb.
  • Easier and more comprehensive searching and filtering.
  • Way more detailed mapping and navigation features.
  • Heaps more route data, displayed in a clean and easy-to-understand way.
  • Bringing back the road layer to the maps, and adding in a bunch of other awesome views.
  • ... and a whole huge massive amount more (there's at least 50 other items on my list!)

Wait, that’s a f*tonne of work!

Yeah, it is, and I want to relaunch the new directories before the end of the year. Bold words, I know. I’m putting it out there to make it happen.

To create time for the directory upgrade, I have a plan to keep all the other plates spinning. Wild Challenges will keep ticking along. The shop will still send your orders straight away. Promos, giveaways, and social media posts to inspire you will keep dropping. If I have to adjust something along the way I’ll try to let you know. 

The goal is to hit 2023 with kick-arse directories that make Wild Things even more of an absolute no-brainer for everyone who loves the trails. 

Excited? I am.

Rob

Happy trails everyone,
Rob


But wait, there’s more!

Here’s a bit more about some of the other survey results. Stick around if you’re interested.

  • The survey went to all Wild Things members as well as the Wild Things Facebook community. Over 1,000 people completed it. The survey wasn’t super short so thanks for giving Wild Things your time!
  • After ‘info and maps’, the second most valued feature was quality gear. Members also like the shop and they trust it to endorse quality products.
  • The Facebook page was the preferred place to interact with other runners in the Wild Things community.
  • People who participate in the Wild Challenges really like them but others are put off because they think challenges are mostly for elite runners. (Spoiler alert: they’re not, so I’ll work to correct that impression.)
  • About 26% of members said they came to Wild Things for hiking as well as trail running info. As a result you’ll see I’ve started to weave words like ‘walk’ and ‘hike’ into some of our material because everyone is welcome here if you love the trails.

How experienced are Wild Things members?

The answers people gave about their level of experience produced some results that will probably guide quite a lot of my thinking going forward. One person said they wanted to see a bit more stuff for “Mild Things who are perhaps not able to keep up with you fitter Wild Things”. Someone else wanted to see challenges “for mere mortals”. I found it helpful to read comments like this. The phrase mild things really tickled my fancy.

When you look at the breakdown below, at least half of Wild Things members might consider themselves mild things or mere mortals, at least in terms of experience. Here’s how everyone rated themselves:

Beginner 5%
Beginner to intermediate 15%
Intermediate 29%
Intermediate to experienced 28%
Experienced 18%
Very experienced 5%

One takeaway from all this is that we need to make sure that the word ‘wild’ isn’t interpreted as ‘elite’. Wild is an attitude we all share. The Wild Things mission is to inspire, equip and empower each other to get out and enjoy New Zealand's epic trails. Whatever your experience level.

So, going forward, I’ll be thinking about how to keep the experienced members engaged and the beginners inspired.

Right, I have some work to do. Thank you again for your feedback, and thank you in advance for your support.

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