Website Discovery Phase – User Research

The discovery phase of the ‘’ website project has begun!

The Scottish Parliament has committed to putting our users’ needs at the forefront of the website design and the discovery phase is a brilliant opportunity for us to get the project off on the right foot.

We have been working with a user-research agency, User Vision, to gather information that will tell us what the top tasks are that our users want to complete on the Scottish Parliament website. As part of our discovery, we decided on a number of research activities, including online surveys, stakeholder workshops, face-to-face research and interviews inside and outside the Scottish Parliament.

To start with we ran two internal workshops to understand who we think uses our website. We asked participants to think outside their parliamentary roles and answer the question: “who are our user groups?” Without a clear idea of who our users are, we won’t be successful in building a new website for them. Many a post-it note later, we had an agreed and prioritised stakeholder map.

Creating our proto-personas in a workshop setting
Creating our proto-personas

The next part of our research activity was to run one-to-one interviews with stakeholders from across the Parliamentary business areas. The focus of the interviews was to understand the variety of users’ needs from the point of view of each business area and we had some insightful discussions. Our colleagues told us that they believe people who visit their web pages primarily want information about specific topics. They also told us that it’s a problem that any visitors need to understand our parliamentary processes if they want to successfully find information on our current website.

Parliament staff have given their views on what they think the website is being used for and by whom, we will now ask all users to verify or challenge these assumptions. We will do that using a survey and a number of other research activities, including face-to-face research at Holyrood.

It will be interesting to see whether – and how –the results of those outward-facing inquiries differ from what our staff think.

It may seem a basic objective to understand what tasks users want to complete when they visit our website, but we really need that tangible evidence to support our design choices. The user research will continue at pace through November and December – so keep an eye out for future blog posts!