Storm ID Design and Develop Digital Service for West Sussex County Council

26 March 2015
 

The project sought to redesign the West Sussex County Council website around the needs of its customer experience, key audiences and users, giving due consideration to their user needs, context of use, technology and user journeys.

The new digital service needed to offer users an exceptional and compelling online and mobile customer experience that would represent a primary customer contact channel for West Sussex County Council.

Objectives

To build a digital service, rather than a website.

Creating a destination site that directly addresses the needs of its audiences and supports the public digital services agenda.

To transform customer experience.

Address the current failures in web usability on the existing site, and offer a radically improved user experience, increasing usage and user satisfaction.

  • To reduce the call traffic through the call centre
  • To enable users to self-serve
  • To make information easy to find, quickly
  • To deliver a fully responsive website
  • To create a seamless user journey and experience

To support end to end digital transactions.

Enabling users to access informational services and transact with the council across key service areas.

Solution

Our service proposition with our Local Authority clients is to progress strategic web development and improve the customer experience of accessing their content and services digitally – via desktop, mobile or TV at the web presentation layer. As such, Storm ID delivery is focused on the agile redevelopment of the web services layer as a platform for further development.  This particular project was split over four key stages; Discovery, Alpha, Beta and Live.

  • The Discovery release sought to develop a deep understanding of the organisation and user requirements for the project, including the alignment of business and project objectives, key project stakeholders, project roles, timelines and delivery plan.
  • The Alpha release focussed on developing a prototype for review by all stakeholders on a URL. Including; rapid, iterative development of key user journeys to quickly test and validate with real content. Concurrently, graphical moodboards were also created and refined to explore how the existing WSCC brand identity could be used.
  • The Beta release involved refinement based on feedback from the Alpha release, integrating the chosen visual direction developed via the moodboards. Further development of the key features and functionality was undertaken.
  • The Live and final release involved preparing the website for launch including user acceptance testing, security and platform testing.

 WSCC Responsive-Screen-Mockup

Developer Notes

User Experience – On average 12,000 people visit www.westsussex.gov.uk every single week, it was therefore vital that Storm undertook extensive user research to determine what people want to do when they visit the council’s site, ensuring that visitors would be able to find what they were looking for quickly and easily.

Mobile First – The site is fully responsive and underpinned by the Umbraco open source content management system.  We ensure that all websites adapt to the screen size, platform and orientation through which a user is browsing them in order to provide the optimum experience across any device from desktop to smartphone.

Umbraco Forms – We setup the new Umbraco Forms product within the site.  Umbraco Forms is only compatible with Umbraco 7.2.x so we had to upgrade from our initial build of 7.1.6.  Once the upgrade was complete, we setup Umbraco Forms and updated the html output from the forms to fit with the design of the site.  Work was also done to ensure that the forms would work with the responsive site.  An example form was created, which included all of the common fields that could be used on forms across the site, and then we converted this into a Form Template so that it could be reused buy the admin users.

Transactional Web Applications – Where any new system is expected to integrate with other systems it is important to ensure the proper consideration has been made to support common integration methods and protocols such as API and web services. To do this we adopted a Service Orientated Architecture approach to the system design and packaged the business processes as services which are well described and appropriately exposed for integration purposes.

Search & Discovery – An imperative part of the WSCC website, which facilitates a rewarding user experience and ensures that users can find information quickly and easily. We integrated the GSA search and extended it to provide the correct user experience.  The raw data coming back from the GSA search was formatted to fit with the design of the site.  We then added in extra meta-data to the site (gastitle and gsadescription) so that we could control the page titles and summary information that was returned from the GSA search.  This can be customised within Umbraco to allow WSCC to control how their pages are displayed.  We are hitting multiple collections so that different results can be returned (web pages only, documents, news, all site content).  There are collections for beta, test and staging.  We are using extra information supplied by the GSA results to provide “Did you mean?” suggestions and are hitting a separate API to get back auto-complete suggestions when the user is typing in the search box.

GEL (Global Experience Language) – As part of this project Storm created a GEL (Global Experience Language) that acts as a reference point for designing WSCC services across all devices. The GEL contains dynamic global templates, all graphical interface elements and an evolving pattern library that third parties can use to ensure a consistency of user experience and design across the WSCC estate.

Results

The site has been created with West Sussex County Council’s IT partner Capita and developed by Storm ID.

Bob Lanzer, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said:

“Our old site was outdated and difficult for our customers to use.  This redesign has been done with our digital customers very firmly at the heart of it.

“We know people want to go about their businesses with us at a time that’s most convenient to them – and a lot of the time that simply won’t be in office hours but after work and at weekends.

“We’ve looked carefully at what residents actually use our website for and redesigned it with their needs in mind. It’s also been tested by real people who tell us that they find it much easier to use.”

Paul McGinness, Director of Storm ID, said:

“We worked closely with Capita and West Sussex throughout the project and combined a user centric design approach with an agile delivery methodology to create a site that meets the needs of West Sussex customers. We look forward to developing the transactional capabilities of the site in line with the goals of the customer experience programme”

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