Getting to know our users better

We’re redesigning our website to follow the Top Tasks model created by Gerry McGovern. Thanks to the 1,400 people who responded to our survey, we will be designing our first version of the new website (known as a Beta) around three top tasks.

These are:

  • legislation
  • parliamentary questions and answers
  • what was said in parliament

Although these are more specialist than we expected, they cover the most important work that parliament does. Our challenge is to make these tasks easy to understand for all our users.

Who are our users?

Based on the top task research, our key user groups are:

  • Civil servants
  • Disengaged members of the public
  • Education professionals
  • Engaged members of the public
  • Journalists
  • Lobbyists
  • MSPs and their staff
  • Parliament staff
  • Researchers
  • Students
  • Tourists

After gathering what we knew about these users, we wanted to understand how these groups could use our new website for the top tasks. That's when we realised we had gaps in our knowledge...

So we’re doing the obvious thing as a user centered design team: we’re spending more time speaking to people from each user group.

Our approach to research

I’ve always loved the GDS idea that ‘user research is a team sport’ and that’s the way we're doing things here at the Scottish Parliament.

The design team - including Justin our UX designer, Jill and Louise our user researchers and myself as content designer and strategist - jointly came up with a list of questions to help us better understand our users.

The first part of our research includes questions on:

  • use of different devices
  • comfort using the internet and any impairments that make using the internet challenging
  • types of websites used and preferred both personally and professionally
  • preferred formats of information for both personal and professional information
  • use of the parliament website and information they would find useful

For the second part, we’re asking users to tell us what they think some of the top task terms and terms used across parliament mean. Here we're checking if the language that we're using currently is easily understood across all user groups.

We've also been carrying out the research as a team to keep focused on who we're designing for.

Our user researcher Louise here in action interviewing one of our users

Researching across Scotland

We’re lucky that people travel to the parliament from all over Scotland and beyond. We've spoken to tourists from all over the UK and as far away as India and America in our public areas. We’ve also spoken to members of the public and professional users attending meetings or events in parliament.

But we don’t want to bias our research by mostly speaking to people from Edinburgh and the central belt. To stop this, we’re going to take our research on the road and plan to speak to people all over Scotland.

How you can get involved

While we’ve completed our research with MSP staff and tourists, we want to talk to people from all the other user groups.

If want to take part in our user research or you’d like to help us test our designs, please contact Louise on