Derby City Council is one of the country’s largest unitary authorities, responsible for all local government functions within Derby. The existing site was used by thousands of people every day but had become out of date and hard to navigate. Erskine Design were selected to redesign the website to improve the user experience and to design an adaptable website structure that could evolve with the council’s requirements.
We began the design process by conducting interviews with stakeholders across the eleven service areas. This helped us to understand their needs and frustrations, and also allowed them to give their opinion on what they felt their customers wanted from the website. We were invited to listen in on calls to customer services. This helped put the project into context and helped us understand first-hand the main reasons people were visiting the site.
This initial research resulted in a wish list of features and content that we could then begin to prioritise. The council’s in-house team conducted a content audit, which helped us define separate ‘content types’ and the data that would be attributed to them. For example, a ‘venue’ would include a location, short description, long description, related events and associated clubs.
It was also important to understand what the limitations of the site should be. It was often more efficient to summarise an event and link directly to its website, rather than trying to maintain up to date information on the council site itself.
Once we had a better understanding of the scope of content, we could start to try and organise it into a logical structure. It was established early on that we would be using standardised terms from the Local Government Navigation List (LGNL) as a starting point. LGNL is a UK government recommendation, designed to be a standard way of organising the services offered by a local authority on their website. I’ve written more detail about how we worked with LGNL here: Designing the Derby City Council website architecture using the LGNL.
Throughout the process I worked with the content management system provider, making sure that design decisions were practical and would work in harmony with their back-end systems.