Welsh Parliament Web Design
Project: Redesign of the Welsh Parliament website.
To ensure the new website presents information clearly and engages the public. To provide a good framework for information and to help users access it easily. To ensure that the design and styling can be easily adopted for other sub-sites of the Welsh Parliament.
Time Frame: 11 months
My Role: Lead Designer and UX designer.
Design support from Kate Abbass.
Working for: Method4
Methodology: User centred design. Agile sprints.
At the outset we were provided with a feasibility study and lots of data that included research such as user journeys and a set of personas, a great starting point for design and information architecture. We did a short discovery exercise to explore other parliament websites and information rich websites, which was useful to get ideas and discuss likes and dislikes with the team. Following the initial investigation work, we organised a series of workshops with the product delivery team to progress the information architecture, content sorting and navigation. During the course of these we raised important questions, challenged assumptions and confirmed the objectives for the website.
During the workshops, we were able to sketch up some of the core landing pages, following this they were prototyped and tested with a range of users for feedback and benchmarked against the persona profiles. Page layouts and content were revised according to user feedback and we worked towards a solid IA and 15 master page designs in desktop and mobile formats. Adobe XD was used to create the prototypes which were easily shared with the team for live and continuous feedback. This method allowed for multiple rounds of input before the design and styling phase and the development sprint could begin.
We presented design options that offered a range of styling and themes until a master theme was decided on. Using brand fonts and colours, Welsh Parliament photos and icons ensured consistency and cohesion across both the main website and sub sites. The design was applied across the sub sites for example the Youth Parliament and Senedd Research sites until a common theme was agreed that worked for all websites. Internal feedback was gathered at this stage by the product delivery team until we were to a point of sign off. Adobe XD web page templates were then styled and designed accordingly.
The assets and a website style guide were created for the team at Method 4 to build the pages across desktop and mobile devices and then for the Welsh Parliament product team to use after the initial build. After more iterations, the design sprint had come to a point where I could step back as the data migration started and the website was in full development stages at Method4. Following this the site was handed to the Welsh Parliament product team to shape and manage their own content.
So much more has been done to the website since my involvement, I was involved in the early stages to help bring the perspective of the user and to design the master style. As in any digital project of this scale and nature, the website continues to change as more information is required in the site and more is known about how users are engaging and accessing information. The internal product delivery team at the Welsh Parliament continue to populate content within the new platform and have developed the design style guide further. The Alpha website went live approximately one year from when we started.
What I learned:
- With this project there was SO much more at play than a re-design! Method4 were tasked to handle large infrastructure changes and data migration to an Azure platform. All through the sprint phases, a healthy tension existed between getting a sound and stable IA (important to the organisation) and getting good UX and design (important to the user). The design, look and feel of the website has a role to play in both IA and UX, it ultimately needs to work for organisation and users.
- Welsh Parliament staff and members represent the largest percentage of users of the website, they access it on a daily basis for internal research and reference and for publishing of articles. Early on in the first sprint, it became clear that I needed a number of internal user personas in addition to the existing set to ensure that their diverse needs were represented. I always use personas to focus us on user needs in whatever project I’m on. This time they were used as a really practical tool to role play as the content and designs were iterated.
- It became increasingly important to have a diverse range of input in the workshops as we developed options for hierarchy of complex information on pages. The willingness of those people to share their knowledge in the workshops was invaluable to the process as was the skill set at Method4 who’s team were great at leading the sketch-up sessions.
- I learned that the function of the organisation of the Welsh Parliament is to serve Wales, to make laws, set taxes and oversee the work of the Welsh Government, though it is not a service in itself. From a website perspective, it serves to provide research and information to users. This was a huge challenge as there are so many different information types that require different treatments. As a service designer, I struggled to grasp this for a while! I still believe that all information needs to be designed for users, and as far as was reasonable, I leaned on the 10 GDS principles* to lead the design of an informative and engaging website.
* GDS principles state:
1. Start with user needs
2. Do less
3. Design with data
4. Do the hard work to make it simple
5. Iterate. Then iterate again
6. This is for everyone
7. Understand context
8. Build digital services, not websites
9. Be consistent, not uniform
10. Make things open: it makes things better
"Thank you Michelle for your contribution to the project and for your patience throughout. The design was intrinsic to the project and it was critical to have a sound design when we reached the development phase. It has been a pleasure working with you. I think the finished site looks great, and is a huge improvement on the old one (and early feedback from users confirms they agree)."
John Brassington, Senedd Cymru, Senior Project & Change Manager
"Michelle came along side us to help with the design, styling and templates for the website, it was a complex job, and there was a lot involved, both in terms of practical design steps and helping the product team to make good choices with a user centred approach. She slotted into our team sprints and wasn't afraid to challenge decisions or change direction - all necessary for us to get the best outcome for the site. It's nice to see the site finally out there in the World. There are ongoing challenges and we've built it so that changes and developments can be managed by the Welsh Parliament team, but ultimately it looks and works so much better than the old site. It all hangs together much better and navigation is a lot easier now, so thanks for all your hard work Michelle."
Neil Huggins, Director. Method4