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).
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Designing a discovery workshop

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

I was part of a team that designed and delivered a discovery workshop to explore the barriers that SME’s face in raising funding. At the full day event, we explored barriers and solutions with 56 SME’s, advisors and funders. During lunch, an attendee told me that he had been attending similar events for over thirty years. “This one has a lot more dynamism but what do you plan to do next? Usually nothing happens afterwards”. The hard part, a surprise to many, is not undertaking research with your end-user, it’s continuing the dialogue. It is important to talk about what you are doing next, what you are not doing, and how stakeholders can continue to engage with you.

This post explores how to design a discovery workshop and how to build in feedback to ensure attendees can continue to see the value in the work.

Planning a discovery workshop

When planning a discovery workshop, our user research and engagement team recommend starting by asking three basic questions:

  1. What do you need to understand?
  2. Why?
  3. What will you do with your findings?

When satisfied that you are able to answer these questions then you can begin to think about who to work with, when, and how best to engage with them.

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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.

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Cross-government(s) user researchers meetup

This is a post by Kate Saunderson and Sam Tilston, User Researchers at Scottish Government

The first “UK – Scottish Cross-Government(s) user researchers meet up” took place in Edinburgh on January 26th. Sadly scheduling conflicts prevented Leisa Reichelt (Head of User Research at the Government Digital Service) from coming along, but we have her scheduled in for next time!

That didn’t stop a diverse group of user researchers, UXers and content designers gathering and having a wide-ranging and fascinating conversation about user research and content and experience design. We’ve captured the key highlights in the link below.

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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.



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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.

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