We’re Amy and Rachel. Together we’ve worked in the Parliament for a combined total of 16 years in 10 different offices. Most recently, we’ve been in the committees and from there we’ve been seconded to the Web Project.
We’ve been in the Web Project for almost 2 months now. So far, we have trained in designing content and working in an agile team. We’re also meeting with colleagues and teams to talk about the project and how to get involved.
An earlier blog post talked about the importance of having SMEs involved in the project. The secondee roles are partly about bringing subject knowledge to the project team. But they’re also about building capability in the Parliament, so that we can take new skills back to our offices.
We’ve had some good discussions and lots of questions. For our first blog we thought we’d have a go at answering some of the most asked questions.
If there are other questions you’d like us to answer, we'd love to hear from you. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why are we doing this?
There are many reasons why the Parliament is building a new website. The existing website is old and doesn’t operate well on mobile devices. We also know that people find it hard to find the content they need.
But a new website offers a lot of opportunity too. The Parliament’s strategic plan talks about engaging people and using technology. The PO’s Commission on Parliamentary Reform recommended we make our language clearer so people outside the “Holyrood bubble” can understand it. Our engagement and diversity and inclusion plans both have a focus on making our work meaningful and accessible to people and we see our new content strategy as a key way of supporting these improvements.
Accessibility is an important part of the new website. The Public Sector Bodies (Website and Mobile Applications) Regulations came into place in 2018. They set out what public bodies must do to make their websites accessible. This includes:
- using Plain English so people can easily understand our information
- making sure our website is easy to search and use
- having alternative formats available for things like videos and infographics
The Scottish Parliament’s website must follow these rules or face a fine. And if we choose not to follow them, we exclude many people from our website.
How do we work?
The project team work in an Agile way.
Agile means delivering a project in parts, rather than as a totally finished product. It’s based on collaboration and continuous improvement.
- focused on what people need from us
- building things quickly
- testing regularly with users
- releasing small sections, gathering data, and making improvements
This allows for continuous learning and improvement. You can see how we’ve previously improved the beta website following the first launch.
What stage is the project at?
The first version of the new Scottish Parliament website went live a year ago. A previous blog post covered the first launch.
So far, the beta website has rolled out:
- parliamentary debates and questions (which includes official report, videos of the proceedings in chamber and committee meetings and written questions and answers)
- members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) covering finding, contacting, and the roles of an MSP
- first microsite with the Festival of Politics website
What’s coming next?
Over the coming months, we'll:
- deliver the first 3 committees (Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee and Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committees) with membership, current business, next meeting and contact details
- continue to deliver the remaining top tasks
- improve the new website by adding additional features
- use the design work we’ve done to create a design system so that our online products and services are consistent
- identify where we can simplify the Scottish Parliament’s web and online presence
What is pair writing?
Pair writing is how we work with subject matter experts (SMEs) to create content.
As content designers, we will work with SMEs to create content in the Parliament’s style. We do this by designing, drafting and publishing the content that meets Parliament’s Plain English standards and style guide, ensuring content is presented in an accessible format, and meets best practice outline in content strategy.
The content design team bring expertise in how users behave online and how best to present information to them.
Pair writing gives SMEs the opportunity to provide feedback about the factual accuracy of the content which improves the content quality.
Both the content designer and SME work together to make sure the content stays up to date and useful.
The Web and Online Project Team also encourage SMEs to attend any usability testing to see how users react to the design and content.
How do we do create content for a new website?
Leadership Group agreed a content strategy for the Parliament. This says our content must be:
- user centred
To do this, we’re developing a Parliament style guide (like the style guide from gov.uk). We’re also training teams how to write for the web. There’s lots of support available so please get in touch if you want to know more.