An update on our accessibility testing

This is a post by Sam Tilston, one of our user researchers, and Scott Langley, one of our user experience designers.

As part of our on-going accessibility work on, we recently carried out a round of accessibility testing. It’s an important part of our overall accessibility strategy to carry out testing with real users as they can help identify issues that automated tests and expert audits won’t find.

Our approach

We interviewed 10 participants over a two-week period at a number of locations across Scotland. We asked the participants to carry out representative tasks on the site and explored a number of key areas, primarily to evaluate the site and ensure it is usable for users with disabilities and users of assistive technology.

We recruited a spread of participants who had either a physical, cognitive or visual impairment. Although we segmented the participants into these three groups it is important to be careful with categorisation, as there can be large differences within in each category and the severity of the impairment can vary greatly. Additionally, it is common for people to have multiple impairments.

We tested across a variety of platforms and participants made use of their own assistive technology (including screen-magnifiers, screen-readers, styluses and other input devices).
Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 16.44.15
Continue reading

SME Discovery Day

This is a post by Kate Saunderson, one of our user researchers, and Denise Lamond, one of our user experience designers.

What do Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), business advisors and funders think about the challenges faced by SMEs when they seek advice and funding to grow their business? That is the question that the Business Development Bank team, the user research and engagement team, and the team collaborated on to understand.

Together we designed and organised an SME Discovery day workshop to explore who SMEs are, the challenges they face and the changes we can make. Each team had a different role and agenda, but the core focus of the day was the user; the approach was with, not for.


Room capture from the afternoon session

Continue reading

Design style guide

This is a post by Chay Nicholson, our Creative Lead.

The first pass of our Design style guide has just been published to the resources site. The Design style guide aims to provide guidance to developers and designers in producing digital services for or aligned with

The guide covers design thinking and approach, as well as providing inline working examples of components. In this sense it is an amalgamation of design elements and style guide – putting the what, and the why in the same place. By providing the context around decisions that we have made, we can hopefully help designers and developers come up with solutions in situations where there may not be a pre-prescribed solution. An example of this is where it may be necessary to fine-tune spacing to compensate for the css interpretation of line-height.


Some fine-tuning of text margins is sometimes required to compensate for the css interpretation of line-height, which takes its reference from the centre line rather than the baseline of the type.

Continue reading

Development process for “Hide this page now”

This is a post by Jono Ellis, our Social Media Manager

Hide this page now

New feature – our “Hide this page now” button

Today’s blog post gives a little bit of background about the latest feature to be added to our site. Recently we added the ability to quickly escape from certain sensitive pages on the site. This is a feature aimed at anyone who is at risk of domestic abuse or who may be researching information on our website who may want to prevent others from seeing what they are browsing.

This user need was identified during user research fieldwork – users needed a feature to help ensure their safety and privacy. Scotland’s 2011 population was 5,295,000, (our most recent census data) and in the same year 59,847 incidents of domestic abuse were recorded in Scotland. The need for pages which can be escaped from quickly is a very real one which impacts vulnerable citizens and one the team took very seriously.

Continue reading

When I went to visit GOVT.NZ

This is a post by Rachel Jane Patrick, our departing Digital Designer

During March and April I was lucky enough to find myself in New Zealand visiting friends and family. I volunteered to go in and say hello to the team in New Zealand, who are working on similar website to our own, I was keen to pick their brains about the project. Volunteering turned out to be a great idea as the team were so welcoming and open, sharing information about their processes.

Day 1 started with me observing as User Researcher, Annika, fed back on a recent user testing session which was both incredible and insightful. The focus on the test had been to compare the new and old information architecture and design of the site and for this they had used some eye-tracking software to see which aspects of the site people focused their attention on.

It was interesting to see from the results of the eye-tracking analysis that users kept going back to look at the brand imagery. The use of imagery on is a much-debated topic – as I’m in favour of introducing images it was good to see evidence that supported their use. During the task-driven exercises, the behaviour of users highlighted that it’s more important to get an answer than the right answer.

Continue reading


This is a post by Peter Smith, Product Owner for alpha and beta

From today you can see the beta version of This marks the start of a phase in which we will continually add content and features to the site, making use of the tools and processes we have been developing since the release of alpha. Care Information Scotland (CIS) and the Scottish Business Portal are amongst the first to work with us on content and we would like to thank them for working alongside the team on this early beta release.



Continue reading

Setting up a cost effective user research lab

Our user research / usability lab is very simple and cheap solution for everyday activities – coming in well under normal costs. It is relatively portable,  procurement and health and safety supervision free and can be setup within minutes. We tested a number of more advanced setups based on Apple TV and/or Wi-Fi solutions but all of them sooner or later failed as a reliable solution in our environment.

For the environment, we need to work under the supervision of the facilities team to make sure everything meets health and safety rules. That includes underfloor cables, painting, moving quiet pods, colours and reflectiveness of the desk, and the location of lighting. There is a cost associated with these services.

Continue reading