Content redesign workshops

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Thinking about the user need

Firstly, I know we haven’t updated the blog for a while but rest assured we have been working hard on the next phase of the project.

We are about to start developing the content for our new site, working with service experts who know their processes inside out. Exciting times!

Getting the right information on a page is something we need to work at to make sure we are giving the customer exactly what they need.

To do this we have begun holding workshops with experts from the main services we provide.

Rather than looking at the current website content, we are working from a blank canvas. This gives us the opportunity to think about the content from a fresh point of view.

We start by asking:

  • what their services are
  • who their customers are
  • what tasks people come to their webpages to complete.

We invite our experts to a room and ask them to post-it note out the list of services, put them into sections under main headings, then order the tasks.

This prompts a lot of useful questions and discussion:

  • why do we even have this on our site?
  • can we help people find this information more easily?
  • how would that make a user feel?
  • is this information stored elsewhere?
  • are our pages accessible to everyone?

We are using Trello to organise our post-it notes from each session. This gives us a shareable, online base where anyone involved can amend or contribute to the boards.

Learn from the best

We have encouraged our workshoppers to look around at other websites to see how they present information that is relevant for many councils, for example, Council Tax or licensing.

If another council has been through a similar process and has created content that serves user needs effectively, we can use this to build on.

Pair writing

Following these initial workshops, we will start pair writing with our service experts.
This is a collaboration, where one of our digital team sits with a service expert to draft brand new content for their page. It’s a fairly new concept for us that ensures the user and the reason behind the content are always kept in mind.

Pair writing: work side by side, commit time to slowing down in the service of meeting user needs.

These are the steps we will follow:

  1. we will choose content that supports the completion of top tasks
  2. then invite our service experts to spend an hour or so working with us on this content, clarifying what we hope to achieve by using the pair writing technique
  3. before we start writing, we will establish the user need that we’re trying to meet with this content, for example, in the format of a user story (ideally this will be based on user research)
  4. we will sit together at a computer or laptop, and take it in turns to write
  5. the person who isn’t writing can read out loud, ask questions, suggest changes, and compare the current draft to the user need
  6. we will then swap roles so that each person spends about half of the time in each role; the more varied the feedback, the better
  7. at the end, we will get everyone to talk about the content they’ve created and how it helps support task completion; is this content simple and clear enough?

We will be using Google Docs for our pair writing as it means we can use it for commenting and sharing afterwards.

We have learnt a considerable amount from the three workshops we’ve held so far; this will help us create the best content we can.

Claire Ryan-East: Digital Support Officer