From 1999 to today – telling the story of Parliament

We know from our research and analytics that most of the people come to the Parliament’s website to find out what‘s happening now.

But in building our new website for Parliament we also need to accommodate people who want to go back further. In our case, that means going back to 1999 when the Scottish Parliament first opened. In 1999, our website looked like this:

Screenshot of the Parliament website in 1999

One of our challenges is making sure we provide information both for those who want to know what’s happening now, and those who want to know what happened before.

Part of the project has been to:

  • define the information Parliament should make sure is available, no matter when it happened
  • make sure everyone can access this information

Deciding what needs to be on our website

To solve the first part of the problem, we defined what information had to be maintained (we call this core parliamentary information or CPI). Then we had to decide how best to maintain this information make it easy to find.

We worked with colleagues around the Parliament to agree what is CPI. This i list sets out the information that needs to be available through our website. Examples of CPI include:

• Bills
• committee reports
• Official Reports
• committee minutes

Overall we have over 70 items listed as CPI.

Once we defined what CPI was, we then had to agree the best way to present the information. Irrespective of when the information was published by Parliament, we’re bringing a consistent design to how users find information.

Here are 2 examples of how we’re doing this.

Telling the story of a bill

In this example, if you’re looking for a Bill, you can visit the legislation pages where you can search for information “by subject” and “by session”. This example shows a search for “Transport”.

Screenshot of the Beta site Bills list after searching by subject and session.

The Transport (Scotland) Bill (second search result) is a Bill from the current session. If you click on it you’ll get a live webpage showing all the Bill discussion, debates and associated documents from this session.

The other search results refer to transport Bills from earliest sessions of Parliament. If you click on these links you’ll go to a page on our website with basic Bill information, including the:

  • session
  • introduced date and bill as introduced document
  • link to the previous bill pages on the National of Records of Scotland web archive website
  • links to the legislation on

Regardless of whether the Bill is from this session or older, you can still find all the Bill information in one place.  Bills from previous sessions will direct you to an archive of the information on the National Records of Scotland Web Archive Service.

What was said in Parliament - adding to the story

The What was said section of the website brings together information from the Official Report and the associated video footage. This section draws its information from Parliament data which means you can access all this information on the Parliament site.  

Like the Bill search, users can search “by subject” and “by session”. This lets the user follow the conversations around work going through Parliament and see who’s been involved in each piece of work. The following example shows the user experience of searching for “wild salmon”  from 1999 to the current day.

Screenshot of a user searching for Wild Salmon in the "What was Said in Parliament" section

What’s next

We will be adding more content to the beta website over the next 8 weeks to ensure all CPI from 1999 on is available. This will include making information available from our data sets (such as Votes and Motions and Written Answers) or creating pages on our site that link to the relevant location on the NRS Web Archive service.

If you require any more information about content strategy please contact