• led by the Digital Experience Team at Renfrewshire Council

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Digital Experience vision and programme

A trustworthy, reliable and transparent digital experience is a must-have for Renfrewshire Council.

The better we make our digital experience the easier it will be for our citizens, local communities, and colleagues to access and use our information and online services.

The context

Digital Experience (DXP) is how people interact with us online.

Our digital experience is key to support the delivery of valuable information and services.

A successful digital experience solves real problems and creates value and positive experiences for our citizens, local communities, and staff. In turn, it enhances the efficiency of our services and improves the way we work.

Digital experience includes:

  • websites
  • apps
  • social media channels, for example Facebook and Instagram
  • digital communication mediums such as emails, web notifications and chatbots
  • voice device technology, for example Alexa and Siri
  • digital advertising, for example Google ads
  • wearables such as a smartwatch
  • digital signage

At Renfrewshire Council, we predominantly use websites and social media to make information and services accessible to our users. We have more than 140 websites, including 100 school websites. The most visited websites are Renfrewshire.gov.uk, intranet, online customer portal (MyAccount), and Paisley.is. In 2021, these four websites attracted 2.6m users who each visited our websites 2.2 times in average. The number of users is significantly higher than from pre-pandemic levels, which confirms an increasing and consistent reliance on information and services provided online amongst our Renfrewshire communities.

However, our research in Discovery validated the diagnosis we made from our Pre-Discovery phase: our current digital experience is not working. It is fractured and inadequately supported by the existing content, design, technology, brands, and ways of working. We have organised our digital experience to suit our needs, not the needs of our users.

Throughout our research, we asked our users what they thought about our digital experience and they shared their frustration with us. They highlighted that they find it hard to navigate between pages and websites and search for the information they are looking for. They expect content to be easier to find and use and the user journey more intuitive. Overall, our users want the same quality of experience with us as they receive from the corporate sector.

The vision

Our vision is to develop a successful digital experience that is seamless, integrated, consistent and personalised.

This successful digital experience will solve real problems and create value and positive experiences for our citizens, local communities, and colleagues. It will deliver valuable information and services, improve the way we work, and enhance the efficiency of our services.

Theme 1: user experience

The service should be easy to use, understand and feel intuitive. It should feel like a joined-up experience regardless of the platform being accessed or device being used.

The online and offline experience of Renfrewshire Council should feel consistent and reflect Renfrewshire’s brand and values.

Improved search functionality and congruous content will enhance the user experience. Providing opportunities for self-service and personalisation will contribute to positive user journeys.

Theme 2: accessibility and compliance

The service should allow access and flexibility for all, this includes those with impaired vision, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments or learning disabilities and deafness or impaired hearing. Content and design should not require adaptation for most. For those who do need to adapt content, the service should support (e.g. screen reading software).

The local authority has a legal duty to protect citizens personal information. To do this, the service should be secure and protect users’ privacy.

Theme 3: clarify and equal access

Currently the web channels convey inconsistent information. Users and staff need a single source of truth when interacting with the Renfrewshire digital experience.

Not only should the information be consistent; it should be trusted, clear and easy to understand.

The service should be easy to access, and everyone should have equal access. This includes members of staff accessing internal content.

Theme 4: ways of working and maintenance

We need to understand who is responsible for building, managing, and maintaining our digital experience.

All our services include subject matter experts. These people should be consulted regularly regarding the accuracy of content and feel empowered to take more ownership of their content.

Our content management should be synchronised across our channels to ensure consistency for our end users.

Maintenance of our digital experience should be easy, and people need to feel empowered to amend/resolve minor issues.

Support and resources should be readily accessible to service teams who are responsible for delivering digital services.

Our digital experience needs to be adaptable. Having the capacity to be flexible to the changing needs of our users is critical.

The programme

Started in 2019, our programme focuses on two areas of work until 2026.

Consolidate our digital experience

Our digital experience is underpinned by too many websites managed by different teams. These sometimes compete against each other for the same audience and can carry contradictory information. They also struggle to apply content, design and technical standards, making them not well-structured, accessible and consistently recognisable as Council-branded. Simplifying our digital landscape is a necessity.

We will develop a new Renfrewshire.gov.uk that will absorb many of our current websites and become the single source of truth. This will allow us to centralise content and effectively maintain quality and accuracy.

Protect the integrity of our digital experience

Working with other digital services across the Council, we will introduce new processes to support this new approach to digital experience developments. This will mean that everyone benefits from innovations.

We will also develop guidelines for employees and partners. They will cover a broad range of digital standards and be housed within The Thread. These standards will, for example, ensure future solutions are:

  • aligned with the vision and programme
  • integrated within the digital experience
  • compliant with web regulations.

The roadmap

In 2019, we led a Pre-discovery phase to look at the context of our digital experience. Based on our findings, we shaped a digital experience vision to make our online information and services easy to find and use for our citizens, local communities, and employees.

We then led a Discovery phase to validate the challenges we originally identified. We categorised them into four themes and recommended solutions for Renfrewshire.gov.uk and the wider digital experience. One of these solutions was to develop the new Renfrewshire.gov.uk and Staff.renfrewshire.gov.uk with Drupal CMS.

In Alpha, we tested the recommendations we made in Discovery. We proved that the technical architecture and development processes of the future digital experience estate will support coherent UX and significantly improve performance, scalability, maintainability, security, and sustainability. You can read more about what we did and learnt in Alpha.

Through Discovery and Alpha, we also defined a delivery roadmap to a successful digital experience estate. This roadmap includes two delivery phases:

  • Renfrewshire.gov.uk delivery phase (starting mid 2024)
  • Staff.renfrewshire.gov.uk delivery phase (starting mid 2025).

Renfrewshire.gov.uk delivery phase

This delivery phase will see the launch of a new Renfrewshire.gov.uk, between September and December 2024.

When launched, this new website will contain selected sections, including waste, environment, council tax, benefit and money advice, and housing. The other sections will be progressively reviewed and transferred from January 2025 until we retire the “old” Renfrewshire.gov.uk.

Staff.renfrewshire.gov.uk delivery phase

Like Renfrewshire.gov.uk, our current intranet has some significant issues. For example, it is only available to people who have Council network access, which is fewer than half of employees.

The second delivery phase will see the launch of a new Staff.renfrewshire.gov.uk to replace our current intranet.

To reduce development work, Staff.renfrewshire.gov.uk will be reusing the same HTML design system and technology as the new Renfrewshire.gov.uk.

Anyone will be able to access the information on the new Staff.renfrewshire.gov.uk, including:

  • people who work for the Council or its partners (HSCP, OneRen, etc.)
  • contractors who work for the Council
  • people interested in working for the Council.

It will only include information that can affect any employees and cover things like:

  • common day-to-day guidance and processes including information about annual leave and absence
  • recruitment
  • onboarding
  • personal development
  • wellbeing.

It will not include team-specific information that is only relevant to some employees. These will be stored in other places like Teams and SharePoint.

This phase will also allow us to optimise Renfrewshire.gov.uk with potential additional functionality that were not developed in the first delivery phase.

We will define a timeline for this phase in 2024.

The team

The Digital Experience team is composed content, design (UX/UI), and technology experts. We work closely with Digital First, ICT and other services to deliver the objectives from our strategy and support your projects.

We bring on our digital partner(s) when additional knowledge is needed to deliver the right digital experience solution.

To receive digital experience support and advice, make a request on The Thread.

Blog

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