This guide provides a set of ‘rules’ and guidelines to help keep the tone, branding and display of content consistent across all the Cambridgeshire County Council’s (CCC) digital platforms. This helps to create trust in the CCC brand and correctly manage our users’ expectations of our digital services, which results in a better user experience and return visits.
The Cambridgeshire County Council's digital design principles main objective is to help our customers complete the tasks they have already decided to do when they arrive at our website. It needs to be remembered that customers do not choose to visit a council website they do so as they have a specific task to complete; e.g. find the opening times of their local library, pay a parking fine, apply for a school place, renew a library book, renew their concessionary bus pass etc.
1: Identify customer needs
The design process starts with identifying and thinking about customer needs. Customers come to our website to complete tasks and to fulfil information needs. We also need to recognize and understand our business needs in the design e.g. legislative requirements, strategies for particular customer/persona groups etc. Focusing on needs means we can concentrate on the things that deliver most value for money.
2: Do less
If another public service or partner already provides a digital service we will link or syndicate it, if appropriate, rather than produce it ourselves. We will provide resources (e.g. APIs) that help other people build things; this will enable us to focus resources where they will do the most good. This also includes doing less on our web-pages so the page focuses on the most important thing so it is clear to customers what needs to be done to complete their task.
3: Using customer insight to inform design
Customers are already using our services so we can use the data we already have on their behaviour to inform the digital designs; this will be a continuous process. For example: the School Admissions service receive the majority (90%) of applications via their online form however there are still very high call volumes to the Contact Centre from customers wanting school admissions information that they cannot find on our corporate website as most of the information they want is in pdf’s.
4: Make it simple for customers
Customers will only use our digital services if they are simple and quick to use, otherwise they will pick up the phone or visit our offices and then our digital services will have failed.
5: Iterative design process
To ensure we build effective digital services we will act on customer feedback to inform refinements that are needed; this will be a continuous process.
6: Accessible design
Our digital services should be as inclusive, legible and readable as possible; accessible design is good design as it means we are designing for all of our customers regardless of what technology they use. We are using responsive design which adapts to the viewing environment (e.g. automatically resizes from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones etc) so that our digital services can be accessed anywhere on a wide variety of devices.
7: Build digital services, not websites
We must remember that our services do not begin and end at our website; they could start with a search engine and end at a children centre/library etc. This needs to be taken into account in the digital design of our services, where we must consider the full customer journey. We also recognise that in the future the best way to deliver digital services may not be via the web but some future channel and we will need to adapt to this as and when required.
8: Consistent design approach
Wherever possible we should use the same language and layout as this helps customers become familiar with our digital services. However we need to recognise that this may not always be possible and then we should concentrate on ensuring our underlying approach is consistent.
9: Be open
The more open we are about our intentions for digital services the better understood and more engaged customers, colleagues, senior managers, councillors etc will be. This should lead to more feedback and scrutiny on our digital service which supports our iterative design approach.