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Our principles

We'll follow the design principles used by the Government Digital Service, along with incorporating our own style, principles and priorities. We also have user experience (UX) principles to maintain the quality of the whole user journey (how a user goes from A to B). 

Government Digital Service design principles

Start with user needs

  • we'll publish content only when specific user need has been identified and that the council is responsible for
  • we'll identify those user needs based on the personas that typify the customer base
  • our content will be professionally written and simple
  • we'll design iteratively, prototyping our online services so that we test, gain and act on feedback and continuously improve the user experience
  • our website will meet the WCAG 2.0 level AA standard of accessibility
  • our online services will be designed as mobile first, and be fully responsive for all devices, current internet browsers and operating systems (as defined by the GDS service manual)
  • we'll prioritise the most common transactional services and information requests

Do less

  • we'll minimise the use of images, icons and photos and videos - only using these where it significantly enhances the user experience
  • we won't replicate online services or information that other organisations are responsible for (such as GOV.UK, NHS, police); we'll signpost there instead
  • we'll remove content that has become irrelevant or out-dated
  • we'll constantly review our online services so that pages that are found to be of little interest or use are removed

Design with data

  • we'll use analytics to decide on the information architecture (homepage arrangement, landing page arrangement, top tasks, content structure, page names)
  • we'll use tools to identify broken links and security risks from other sites
  • we'll use a search function that's simple, prominent, effective and predictive
  • we'll optimise the website information architecture (IA) to enable customers to quickly and easily get to the right service first time and carry out simple transactions
  • minimise website layers and enable shortcuts to allow users to reach a task quickly

Do the hard work to make it simple

  • we'll balance page length and the number of pages, so that we consolidate information where that makes most sense to users
  • we'll have effective search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • we'll use a range of templates, features and designs to enable a flexible approach to displaying services and engaging with users, reducing the need for microsites
  • we'll use hint text to guide the reader to complete webforms

Iterate, then iterate again

  • we'll constantly refine our online services so that these always improve the user journeys
  • we'll use feedback to identify strengths, weaknesses, gaps and errors across our online services
  • we'll use evidence (from data) to optimise online journeys - to improve the customer journeys, such as conversion/completion and abandoned/drop out rates including at what points in the journey these happen
  • in order to measure and evaluate the online journey effectively a blended approach will be applied using traditional web analytics along with additional sources of information/data, including: heuristic evaluations (service UAT and other internal staff), customer testing wherever possible, data and feedback from the contact centre and front-line officers, web analytics (Engage, Ijento, Google Analytics), feedback and complaints
  • key performance data for online journeys will be included in service reports and referenced to service SLAs/ KPIs where possible
  • we'll share analytic data with the organisation to promote continuous improvement

This is for everyone

Accessible design is good design. Everything we create should be as inclusive, legible and readable as possible. The people who most need our services are often the people who find them hardest to use. We'll think about all users from the start and ensure that where necessary telephony and face-to-face processes are also created.

Understand context

  • we’ll design services for people, so we’ll consider the context in which they are using our services
  • we’ll factor in if a user base is familiar with using online services or if they normally only transact on the phone or face to face
  • we’ll make online processes easy (digital by choice), ensuring that we design an assisted digital process where appropriate
  • we’ll adjust the tone of our content based on the context, to present a caring council where possible (for example, the tone for paying a parking fine will be different to the tone used to recruiting apprentices)
  • we’ll use the website to signpost customers to other service providers where appropriate (such as charities and national initiatives)

Build digital services, not websites

  • we’ll design end-to-end experiences including the content, transaction and off-line solution and not just think about the website or webform or portal in isolation
  • we’ll minimise downloads (such as PDFs), in favour of content and webforms
  • we’ll minimise the use of microsites (unless a business case identifies that this should be separately managed)

Be consistent, not uniform

  • we’ll have a consistent approach to using online features (see the editorial guide for guideline for using each content template and functionality)
  • we’ll use the Government Digital Service style guide for spelling, grammar and naming conventions so that we’re consistent with all government organisations
  • we’ll use the official corporate branding and colours 

Make things open, it makes things better

  • we’ll be compliant with GDPR, data security and protection
  • we’ll present information up-front to users where appropriate

Our user experience (UX) principles

Design end to end experiences

Users don’t actually care about content or websites, they care about successfully satisfying their need and having a good experience on the way.

To design an experience effectively we need to consider the end-to-end journey and not stop once it reaches the service or the webform, payment or service.

Encourage preferred behaviours

We'll often have a preferred solution to a particular user need and we'll use tools and techniques to persuade users to behave in a way that encourages the best use of resources, whilst offering alternative options.

Engage with real customers

The only certain way to validate that the content provides the right experience in a real world context is to test it with users in real situations.

Constantly monitor the user experience

The user experience of the product can always be improved and a constant program to iterate and test will always beat right first time.