• led by the Digital Experience Team at Renfrewshire Council

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The operating principles driving the Council’s Digital Experience Strategy

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10 operating principles drive the Council’s Digital Experience Strategy. We and our colleagues adhere to them, helping us to deliver a better digital experience and protect our integrity.

Good reasons to have operating principles

We have a challenging road ahead of us as we want to build a trustworthy, reliable and transparent digital space for the Renfrewshire’s community. There will be lots of demands on our time and resources to support our work and the recovery phase following Covid-19. As a result we’ll need to prioritise what we do and focus on the essentials. These principles will help us do so and:

  • provide some ground rules for our strategy
  • serve as guidelines for making decisions
  • help us become less distracted by shiny but low-value features
  • make our approach clear to everyone, allowing all to participate, contribute and benefit from

10 operating principles

  • We place the users at the heart of what we do
  • We challenge our assumptions and combine data with instinct to inform our decisions
  • We make sure users succeed first time
  • We comply with legislative obligations and meet industry standards
  • We lead an active digital community to drive consistency and efficiency across our channels
  • We engage with colleagues across the organisation and partners and guide them to align their goals with the needs of their – and our – users
  • We are obsessed about performance to help us identify where our efforts can provide greatest value to the users
  • We seek to create a work environment that embraces change quickly
  • We implement flexible technical solutions which take us towards the long-term vision
  • We are curious, open-minded, and bring creativity

What they mean in practice

We place the users at the heart of what we do

For example, we:

  • consider all target audience groups, majorities and minorities, including those with physical or cognitive impairments
  • engage with people to observe how they use our platforms and what they try to achieve
  • aim to identify every valid user need, from the most common to the most specialist
  • write proper user stories and use them to build a better experience

 

We challenge our assumptions and combine data with instinct to inform our decisions

For example, we:

  • source and use enough data by adopting tracking mechanisms and research techniques
  • put to work our instinct and creative experience in conjunction with the data gathered

 

We make sure users succeed first time

For example, we:

  • use a voice that is easy to understand and personable
  • make sure that our content is properly structured and placed where it makes most sense to the primary user
  • enhance inadequate content and make sure the users know what they want to know
  • do not provide information that others can provide better or with more authority
  • avoid duplicating content
  • remove failing/flawed content
  • look at end to end services to build a connected digital ecosystem

 

We comply with legislative obligations and meet industry standards

For example, we:

  • make our websites and apps more inclusive and meet legal requirements
  • follow coding best practices to prevent and reduce technical debt

 

We lead an active digital community to drive consistency and efficiency across our channels

For example, we:

  • give clear guidelines to our colleagues who work with us to maintain our channels
  • use the right processes, resources, and interactions between people to govern our channels effectively
  • deliver appropriate training to educate and align our colleagues on content production
  • value our colleagues and help them elevate their digital experience and writing skills
  • are arbiter of content so nothing is published if it does not meet our principles and requirements

 

We engage with colleagues across the organisation and guide them to align their goals with the needs of their – and our – users

For example, we:

  • offer expert support to develop and articulate a shared vision and objectives for the Council’s digital channels
  • bring colleagues together to resolve common issues in more efficient ways, improve knowledge exchange, and help foster a sense of community
  • build trust and raise awareness by communicating clearly, openly and constantly on the full breadth of our work

 

We are obsessed about performance to help us identify where our efforts can provide greatest value to the users

For example, we:

  • pursue the ongoing improvement of the channels through usability testing, web analytics and assessment, and content analysis
  • aim to estimate the monetised value of our platforms and top tasks
  • see how well needs are being met, and highlight where this should be improved

 

We seek to create a work environment that embraces change quickly

For example, we:

  • implement and use tools, processes and practices that help us prioritise, shape and deliver projects efficiently
  • automate processes rather than introducing manual ones
  • test early and test often
  • adapt what we do based on what we have learned
  • make agreed deadlines less important than the product’s quality

 

We implement flexible technical solutions which take us towards the long-term vision

For example, we:

  • identify core problems/opportunities, before designing the solution
  • adopt solutions we know we will have the capacity and capability to use, support and iterate continually after
  • deliver features and improvements that meet user needs and ensure that our system remains robust and easy to modify in the long-term
  • lean towards the integration of external systems and data sources rather than creating our own
  • do not parachute a company in to deliver something who then leaves us holding the ball or restricts us to their abilities

 

We are curious, open-minded, and bring creativity

For example, we:

    • encourage everyone to dive in the ‘creative’ pool, carefully consider ideas, and turn them into actions
    • are experimental
    • monitor web technologies, opportunities and trends
    • are big advocate of the ‘keep it simple’ belief
Philippe Fara
Philippe became Digital Experience Manager at Renfrewshire Council in 2019. His mission is to build a trustworthy, reliable and transparent digital experience for the Council.