Creating a consistent experience for people using Scottish Parliament websites

Much like any biggish organisation, the Scottish Parliament’s online presence has grown over time.

We’ve added new websites to do different things when our main website did not have the functionality, for example when people:

Because of this, we have a selection of websites that all have a different look and feel. This can be confusing for people because we’re making them do the same thing in different ways.

Examples of Parliament microsites

Here are the landing pages of the three examples listed:

Visit Parliament microsite

Screenshot of the top section of the Visit Parliament microsite

Business Bulletin microsite

Screenshot of the top section of Business Bulletin microsite

Scottish Parliament TV

Screenshot of Scottish Parliament TV microsite top section

What are the differences?

The key differences are:

  • the navigation (menu for people to choose from) are in difference places
  • two do not have clear search options on the homepage and the Parliament TV has a search which people have to click on the icon to go to a separate search page, which is not how search performs on most websites
  • the logo for each of these is in a different place and behaves differently –two of the three take you back to the website and the other one takes you back to the homepage of the microsite
  • design inconsistencies including:
    • the fonts and text sizes are different
    • the use of capitalised vs lower case
    • the date is used on one website and not another when speaking about what’s happening today

We know that many of our users engage with our websites for work, and they have told us that they want to get the information they need as quickly as possible. But because of these differences, each time people use one of our different microsites they need to take time to understand how the new website works before they’re able to complete the task they came to do.

That’s why, as part of our web and online transformation project, we’re planning to bring the majority of the microsites into the new Beta website. This means that people can complete most of the tasks they need to do in one place.

And where we can’t, we’ll use the same look and feel as the Beta on the new microsites. We’ll do this by creating a design system. Here’s a definition of what a design system is by our business owner for the microsite rationalisation work, Chris Brown:

A design system is an online resource that provides tools and guidance to help teams build user-centred services and products to reflect best practice.

The system will define what components and design patterns should be used on Scottish Parliament online outputs, and what rules should be followed to ensure products and services have a consistent look and feel, as well as meeting accessibility standards.

Festival of Politics website

Our first example of this is the Festival of Politics (FOP) website. FOP is an event that brings a range of speakers to Parliament where they discuss important issues affecting the country. As we're trying to attract as wide an audience as possible, it’s important that the event has an engaging presence and does not look the same as Parliamentary business information.

However, that has not stopped us from re-using functionality created for the Beta website. This means that people who are familiar with the new website should be able to quickly do what they need to on the Festival of Politics website. They should feel like they’re having a consistent experience as they move between the Beta website and the FOP website.

We’ll follow up with more information about the new FOP website launch and other microsite rationalisation work shortly. For now, here’s a sneaky look  at the FOP homepage:

Screenshot of the new Festival of Politics microsite
New Festival of Politics microsite - the content here is from previous events to trial the functionality.