post it notes getting stuck on whiteboard

How we’re developing our site through content design

Over the past few months we have been building, testing and developing our corporate website. We will soon be going live with our public beta, and before then we will be telling stakeholders through our blog how we have developed the site with the user at heart.

Content-led redesign process

Understanding how our users used our website informed every element of the redesign process, from the overall structure and to the copy itself. We sought out and spoke to our customers, finding out who they were, what they do when they interact with our website, and how we can help them.

As a result the new website is now built around helping our users do what they need to do: whether it’s legal professionals seeking guidance, or members of the public trying to find out who owns an area of land.

Tobias working on whiteboard

Understanding the problems of the past

In consultation with our users, we discovered that they had significant difficulty understanding how to interact with us. Users spent a great deal of time trying to get the correct documentation, forms, fees and application information. And while the information was there, it didn’t follow the same approach as our users did. To our users, the information appeared to be scattered across the site.

Previously there was a degree of confusion around which content was relevant to professionals trying to complete a task for work, and which was for members of the public seeking clarity on who owns a particular area of land. Content is now clearly signposted, with common requests for the public presented in handy citizen guidance that exists separately from process information for professionals.

Task-based approach

Our content designers separated out the content into two types: detailed guides on how to complete a task or process and information about our registers and services. This separation mirrors how our users work – be it looking for information or needing to complete a task.

tobias working on whiteboard

Content

We created process pages where everything a user required to complete a task (be it search a register or use a service, such as submitting an advance notice) was available in one place.  This might include:

  • codes
  • circumstances
  • documentation
  • fees
  • forms
  • what happens next

Guidance has been engineered to support scanning on a screen, with a reduced word count and formatting to improve navigation, helping users conveniently without to call Customer Service for guidance in all but the most complicated of situations.

Presentation

The website’s content is entirely based around usability and accessibility. We’ve taken an ‘inverted pyramid’ approach to each page, with the most important information at the start of the content.

Presenting content this way saves our users time. We’ve drastically reduced word counts, increased the font size and added prominent sub-headings to improve scanning and readability. There’s less duplication of information, no confusing rabbit holes of content, and fewer pages overall. We moved information out of outdated or unfriendly formats, such as FAQs or PDF files, to create coherent, well-structured webpages that support our users.

Feedback

We talked to our users at the start of the redesign process, and we continued testing it with them during the development of the new website to ensure it best met their needs. We will continue seeking to improve our website as we respond to the changing needs and requirements of our users.

If you are interested in testing the new site please get in touch with the team at website.feedback@ros.gov.uk

You can also follow the team via @RegistersOfScot on Twitter and on FacebookLinkedIn and YouTube for more updates. Want to comment? Let us know below.

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