Planning our next 100 days

2016 is off to a great start – we spent last week looking back on our work in our previous 100-day drive and looking ahead to plan our next 100 days of work.


This month sees the start of our new Programme Director, Ross Ferguson. Ross has joined us from the University of Bath, where he headed up the team transforming digital publishing and service delivery across the university. We’re looking forward to hearing lots from Ross as he settles into our team. Welcome aboard!

Update on the last 100 days


  • Justice – review and final iterations to Victims and Witnesses content following on from peer review – further content team research and ideation, incorporating a number of usability testing suggestions 
  • Justice – Research and creation of content around eligibility and the application process for Legal Aid 
  • Education – providing content to cover the school-leaver journey (applying for financial support and applying to higher education) 
  • Business – discovery and production of high-level exporting content including extensive collaboration with stakeholders in the Scottish business community, represented by the Customer Alignment Group 
  • Housing – holding stakeholder planning workshops and writing content for buying, selling and building a house, including information on grants and help to buy schemes 
  • BAU – managing the content inbox, working with GOV.UK via Zendesk, creating a content mapping process, writing content based on enquiries to the Central Enquiry Unit 

Publishing Platform features

  • Adoption of a tabbed interface on the content editing interface 
  • Implementation of a markdown editor 
  • Image and PDF storage – backend work complete, front-end work carried forward 
  • Notifications of expired content – expired content displayed in Publishing Platform interface, push notifications carried forward 
  • Creating Help and Support pages and linking them where relevant for and 
  • Implementation of new content formats for 
  • Design and implementation of UI – partially complete, carried forward. 


  • Authentication refactor – carried forward ✗

Digital style guidelines

Format review

  • Carried forward as part of next phase of work ✗

Usability and accessibility testing

  • user testing, accessibility testing and Victims and Witnesses content testing 
  • User testing carried out on mobile devices for 50% of tests 

The next 100 days

In terms of what we’re looking to achieve next, the five main areas of work are:

Publishing Platform features

  • There’s a lot that we want to do to support the needs of users of the publishing platform and to better service the needs of users of our site. One big piece of work is to aid the editorial workflow through the additional of new roles and privileges.
  • Another area we want to sort out is the ability to link to content in a new way – at the moment we use the slug URL but sometimes content has to move around. Whenever content moves we need to go back and rework the links to that content – the next step will be to link to content by ID, allowing content to move without affecting links.
  • On the flip side of maintaining links inside our site, we are also looking to improve the monitoring and tools around maintaining links out of from our site – often outside organisations make large structural changes to their sites and their content moves. We want to pick these changes up on a more routine basis as part of our day-to-day work and are looking to build a small feature around this.


  • We have some ambitious goals around reworking our publishing platform’s authentication, maturing it to offer the features and tools required by a large publisher user base.
  • We are also going to look at how we can better surface content when a user searches within our site. Recently there have been some niggles where the way some of our content formats are indexed hasn’t allowed the content to appear as highly for some terms as we would like.
  • Things in this digital world are changing and another area we’re looking at is to stay current – one of the frameworks we use, Angular, has just moved on to a new version (2.0 is in Beta). We are going to look at what it will take to upgrade as part of our next batch of work.

Life events

  • One of the most powerful aspects of our site is the way we can help a visitor to a site in a time of need. For example, if you have just lost your job you might just be looking for one piece of content (information about your legal rights) but our site can surface different threads that become a part of that (debt, stress or mortgage advice). We are going to do some research around how we portray life events on the site, how users might want to interact with these, and how we can surface the right content in search.


  • Our content work roughly forms into two categories – business as usual on the work we’ve already started and have in our pipeline, and the commitments that we’ve taken on for new content. We’ll share more about this content in the coming weeks.

Programme level work

  • We are going to refine our process for getting links to our content.
  • We are going to refine how we are approaching sites for decommissioning.
  • We are going to put in place a clear route for how we transition citizen-focussed site content onto the site.

We’ll update you on our work over the coming weeks. As always, if you are keen to get a closer look at our work then give us a shout on Twitter or Yammer and come along to one of our product demos.

Follow the team via @mygovscot on Twitter for more updates. Want to comment? Let us know below!

End of year support

As we’re almost at the end of the year, we’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the site over 2015. We have had a huge amount of input from fact-checkers and subject-matter experts and we really appreciate all of the work that has gone in to ensuring that the information that we make available to citizens is accurate and easy to understand. A sincere thank you from all of the team.

The office will be a bit quieter from the 23rd of December but we will still be monitoring the content mailbox daily, as well as ensuring continuity for the public-facing site. Technical support will also be available for our content writers throughout the holiday period.

We’ll be back to normal on the 5th of January and looking forward to kicking off our next 100-day drive – see you then!

Merry Christmas!

Introducing the web analytics initiative

This is a post by Rui Cardoso, Business Analyst and Calum Shepherd, our Head of Digital Strategy 

We’ve been thinking about how we can provide insight into the Scottish public sector web portfolio. The Scottish Government has a large web portfolio, with many organisations providing multiple websites – all with unique propositions. It’s important that we, as Scottish Government, increase our understanding of this landscape.

An exercise has already begun to understand aggregated statistics from this web portfolio. Our initial view focusses on a series of core websites – ones which act as hubs for information provided by organisations. This creates an initial list of websites that can be built upon in the future.

  • Did you know we provide over 6 million content items to users that are available to find in search engines (e.g. Google)?
  • Did you also know that over 31 million links point to these content items?

Launching the web analytics initiative

A few weeks ago our team began working on a new web analytics initiative to help us surface and gain access to web analytics data.

The initiative will help to provide:

  • a collated view of the web portfolio;
  • an opportunity to visualise the relationship between websites;
  • an ability to understand demand from users;
  • insight into the services we all provide.

We can also use the data to help educate our direction of travel for building

The team
There is a small, part-time team working on the web analytics initiative. Communications and daily management are being handled by Rui Cardoso – so Rui will likely be an on-going point of contact for queries via

Getting involved
The initiative has begun with requests being issued to an initial list of organisations from Scottish Government, alongside a number of other Scottish public sector organisations. We will grow this list over the coming months.

The activity to grant access to Google Analytics will likely need undertaken by an analytics manager, web manager or marketing team (depending on where Google Analytics control sits within the organisation).

Access will not be shared out-with Digital Public Services & Business Transformation in the Scottish Government. All access will be read-only as well, so there is no risk to the data itself. We would also like to identify a point of contact for web analytics and performance analysis within organisations – as we have ambitions for a future community to improve efforts across the public sector in this area.

If you would like to get involved and help us build a view of the portfolio of websites – get in touch with us via and we’ll let you know what you need to do next.

We’ll be sharing updates on this, and much more on social, so follow the team via @mygovscot on Twitter for more updates. Want to comment? Get in touch below!

Digital Justice: Modernising the Criminal Justice System conference

This is a post by Kate Saunderson, one of our user researchers.

Are we on-route to digital transformation within our Justice system in Scotland? Some of the team recently had the opportunity to explore this topic at the Digital Justice: Modernising the Criminal Justice System conference. My key takeaways: users first (not technology), a digital strategy without relationships will fail, cyber crime is everyone’s problem.

Users first (not technology)
Conversations about digital transformation can often jump straight to technology; that is not the case with the Digital Justice strategy. Led by Elspeth MacDonald, Deputy Director, Criminal Justice Division, the digital strategy sits within Government’s ‘Making Justice Work’ programme. The strategy’s agenda is to shape the change of the Scottish justice system with the vision of transforming citizens experiences with the Justice System. Elspeth believes users should be at the heart of that transformation, ensuring change is always led by user needs.

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Browser compatibility during beta

This is a post by Calum Shepherd, our Head of Digital Strategy.

When thinking about our beta iteration of six months ago, we decided to firm up our understanding of which browsers we intended on supporting.

Compatibility decisions were based upon our understanding of who we thought would be using the website and their current browser choice and version. We used data from our alpha and a vastly more mature data set from – allowing us to get the browser usage spread we needed to make some initial assumptions.

Compatibility decisions are split between the website and our publishing platform – as the intended audience is quite different. We know that people within Scottish Government will likely be running versions of Internet Explorer and don’t readily have access to mobile devices suitable for publishing.

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Our new stakeholder management function

This is a post by Alexander Holt, Head of Transition, Digital Public Services & Business Transformation division

We’re pleased to announce the arrival of the Stakeholder Manager team to the Digital Public Services and Business Transformation division. Their role is to engage with, and act as a conduit between Scottish public sector organisations and the wider Digital directorate.

Expanding and supporting digital transformation

For the next few months our focus is to communicate the ambitions of and help our public sector partners prepare for what that means for them. Our stakeholder managers will engage first with organisations that have been prioritised for transitioning content. We will guide them through the different phases of discovery, user needs research, content creation, and delivery with close involvement from experts in the team as required.

The Digital Public Services and Business Transformation division is also here to support public organisations achieve our vision for Scotland as set out in the Delivery of Public Services strategy. For that, we need to build a picture of the digital landscape across the public sector. In particular, we need to understand the priorities, ambitions for digital growth and how we can support them.

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Organised for Digital Delivery

This is a post by Scott McLear, Business Communications Manager at

For those that do not already know, Robbie Parish has decided to move on from Scottish Government after two years. During this time he has been instrumental in establishing the programme and managed the transformation of GLOW, the Scottish schools’ intranet.

Today though we are delighted to announce that Colin Cook has taken over as head of the newly formed Digital Public Services and Business Transformation Division in Scottish Government.

Colin Cook will be responsible for enabling transformation activities across the Scottish public sector, promoting digital participation and delivering Continue reading