It’s been an exciting time for us in Communications as we’ve busied ourselves on creating a brand new website for the Wales Audit Office – and we’re proud to say that the new digital platform is now live.
During the past few months, we’ve listened to public opinion, worked with user groups and tried and tested things ourselves. We’re still working on it, and we always will be, but our new website provides us with the confidence that we can deliver all of our working output in the most accessible way possible.
As an organisation, we’re committed to helping public services improve, and ensuring that we deliver digital content in the best way we can helps us to achieve this goal – for example, by making all our reports and good practice guidance easily accessible to online users.
Digital communications is also at the heart of our latest corporate strategy – which states that we, as an organisation, will “increase awareness of and engagement with our work, including more effective use of information technology”. But to do this, and do this well, we knew that we really needed a better website.
So how did we get there?
82% of the UK population are currently online – that’s a lot of people. Meeting the expectations of these people has always been at the heart of redesigning our website.
We chose to use open source technology, which allows for a zero cost development platform to be used. The shift to adopt open source has been evident over the past few years for very good reason. For public sector bodies, it offers low cost, internally supported systems that are not restricted by periodic updates and/or continued contracts. It allows us to test things quickly, gather feedback and review what we are doing. That way, we can adapt how we deliver content when our users’ behaviours change. Or, make small changes that we feel will make a big difference.
It was this view, of an internally supported system, that encouraged us to work directly with multiple departments in our organisation. Our IT department have been a huge support in the process and we now have a multi-skilled and diverse team of people with the same goal in mind.
In designing our new site, we’ve worked hard to simplify how we communicate – from summarising reports to reducing the number of pages, but never reducing the quality of content or depth of analysis. We also needed the new platform to be accessible and readable to all visitors, which meant looking at how we use images and words, as well as links and documents. And, we considered how a diverse audience may have specific requirements – and built it with that in mind.
We were also keen to ensure that our new site catered for those who use mobile devices to get online and we will adapt how we deliver information in this context, to make the journey to find information easy and enjoyable.
The digital landscape will continue to change and we’re making a commitment to change with it, so that people can continue to access our information online – quickly and easily.
It’s been a long journey, moving from a 9 year old content management system, with lots of bugs and bad habits built in, to something that now has the user at its core.
We’re pleased with the results and value feedback, however big or small. So please, have a good look around the new website and let us know what you think.
About the Author:
Andrew Purnell is the Wales Audit Office’s Digital Communications Officer. With a background in User Interface design and User Experience design, he has been at the heart of this project from start to finish and will continue to support and develop the site.