Senedd Cymru, Welsh Parliament User experience design and website build

The Senedd / Welsh Parliament is a modern, forward-thinking national Parliament, this is reflected in the Llywydd’s ambitions for the Senedd to set a benchmark for other legislatures around the world. It is imperative that the website reflects these ambitions.

In line with the Senedd’s strategy to modernise the production, management and use of Senedd business information Method4 were asked to design and develop the new Senedd website.

Method4 organised User Experience (UX) activities with key stakeholders during an extensive discovery phase.  This included persona development, user journey mapping, information architecture development, user testing and design activities with a variety of tools and techniques.

Working closely with the Senedd, one of Method4’s agile development teams worked in sprints using the Scrum framework allowing an iterative-incremental build process enabling early visibility and continuous feedback throughout the website build process.  The result is a clean, professional, engaging and easy-to use, bilingual website.

Challenges
  • deliver a completely new, modern Senedd website built from the ground up
  • the Information Architecture of the new site must have the needs of the website users placed firmly at its heart and be structured around their needs and expectations rather than being based on the organisation’s structure
  • the redesign must retain a consistent look and feel throughout the site so that regardless of what page the user is on, they know that they are still within the Senedd’s core online estate. It must do this whilst also taking into account and serving the differing needs of a wide breadth of users
  • the look and feel of the website must clearly and consistently align with the Senedd’s existing Brand Guide and Tone of Voice guidelines. The new site design must be fresh, clean, uncluttered, contemporary, engaging and accessible
  • due to the size and scale of existing data, the migration was particularly challenging, requiring migration of hundreds of thousands of documents and pages, including the effective management of links
  • effective and efficient bilingual authoring environment and content editing tools
The solution
  • the website is built using Umbraco 8 and is cloud-hosted in Microsoft Azure, making use of Azure app services, Azure storage, App gateway and SQL Cloud databases to provide a secure load balanced environment
  • the centralised content management provides support for reusable content Items including images, news items, blog posts, video, and embedded content such as Senedd.TV
  • integration with Microsoft Azure Cognitive Search to provide advanced and efficient search capabilities which combine website search results with those from third-party business systems
  • we developed several Umbraco content apps; to import data automatically and manually from key business systems, as well as providing content editors information about the reading age and reading time of their content
  • making more than 100,000 documents available relating to Senedd business such as committee reports, research papers, laid documents, and deposited papers
  • integration with third-party systems including a petitions system, a business management system (modern.gov) and the record (a bespoke application developed by Method4 to provide transparent records of all Senedd business such as meetings, debates, and committee transcripts)
  • bilingual, including fully bilingual Umbraco back-office. The Welsh back-office translations implemented by Method4 have since been made part of the Umbraco core CMS
  • migration of legacy WordPress and SharePoint microsites into modern and consistent Umbraco implementations
Outcomes and benefits
  • the website is exemplary in its User Experience and User Interface. Using the latest UX standards and practices the new site delivers a simple and intuitive user-centred experience that makes it easy for users to find information as well as information that is related to and relevant to their area of interest
  • the UI provides clear navigation and allows the content to take centre stage by presenting important information in a strong, clear and readable way
  • users are able to explore deeper into and around the website so that they discover new information, learn more about the Senedd, and consume, use and share the content
  • the website delivers an exceptional experience to users through their device of choice, with a consistent user experience across subsites and microsites within one website ecosystem
  • content editors have a flexible suite of templates and components to build and publish pages easily and consistently across the main site and subsites, with fine control over styling within microsites
Throughout the process, Method4 worked with us to focus on delivering our primary objectives, and cleverly used the functionality of Umbraco and their development skills to successfully deliver all our primary requirements. John Brassington, Senior Project & Change Manager, Senedd Cymru