By Greer Schick, Online and Internal Communications Manager.

publicToday we have launched the first few sections of a rebuilt I thought I’d explain a bit more about what we’re doing, why, what’s led up to this point and what’s coming up next.

What’s happening?

We are rebuilding to make it easier and faster for users to find what they’re looking for and help them do things. Today we’ve released the ‘For the public’ and ‘Report a concern’ sections – rebuilt sections of our site that we want to collect feedback on so we can keep improving it. Apart from a handful of other pages, the rest of the site remains unchanged until we release the final sections of the site in another week or so.

Why are we doing this?

First and foremost, we want to make it easier and faster for citizens to exercise their information rights and, for organisations to meet their obligations. We want to create a digital service that people will prefer to use – maintaining and improving customer satisfaction. And finally, to have a service that is easier, faster and more cost effective for us to maintain and develop.We’ve centred our design around sessions we’ve held with users along the way. It’s really important to us that will be based around what users need.

We’ve learnt a lot during this process. It’s been great to have had the opportunity to meet some of the members of the public, organisations and stakeholders who have a need for our services – including those who’d visited before and those who hadn’t – to understand more about who they are, why they come and how they get on.

We’ve also learnt plenty about working in an agile way that is still fairly new for public sector organisations – gaining a lot from the approach of the Government Digital Service (makers of GOV.UK) and various organisations who’ve been happy to share their experiences with us.

Research on our early prototypes showed users found the rebuilt parts of the site clearer, easier to read and understand, and we’ve seen users finding what they’re looking for faster. Where feedback was less positive, we’ve improved upon our early designs – and we’ll keep doing that as we launch the remaining sections, and beyond.

We’ve always called a website, but it’s probably more accurate now to say we’re building a digital service. The site is increasingly accessed on a much wider range of devices (around 25% of our users are now viewing it on mobiles and tablets) and, little by little, it’s also becoming home to more transactional services (eg registering, reporting a concern, notifying us of a data breach etc). Many people appreciate the ease and speed of doing things online – irrespective of the device they’re using – and we need to meet those needs. Part of what we’ve been building is a digital platform that will house our current and future digital services.

Tell us what you think

We’re launching the redesigned sections in stages so that we can see how the service is performing, and collect and incorporate feedback as we go. We hope you like the first sections of our rebuilt Let us know what you think by posting a comment below.

Greer SchickGreer Schick has responsibility for the Information Commissioner’s Office’s online presence, including the ICO website and intranet.

Last updated 27/11/2014 12:45

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15 Responses to Rebuilding

  1. Keith Reeder says:

    One thing I’d love to see is a reworked Notification/Register section. It may only be a little thing, but I’d really like to be able to LINK TO my organisation’s Notification in response to a question about it, rather than have to print it off or provide the enquirer with our Registration Number and have him search for it himself…

    • Neil says:

      Great suggestion, Keith — I have often though the same about being able to link to registration directly.

      Although I wonder if there is a concern about scaping, for which a technical solution might be needed?

  2. richgovernor says:

    What criteria did you use in selecting the use of a commercially available cookie meachanism – and does this not represent an implicit endorsement of that mechanism, which is something you have previously said the ICO would not do?

    • icocomms says:

      Our criteria included that it met our requirements and represented value for money. There are a number of solutions available to help organisations comply with the rules on cookies. We’ve advised that organisations need to consider the cookies they use, their users etc and what will work best for their particular situation.

  3. Bilal Ghafoor says:

    Hi, the decision notice section looks snazzy but it is very poor in comparison to the old one. Before, there were detailed summaries if the notices and one could click on the link to read the whole decision. Now, there is part of a sentence only and the summaries are gone. For practitioners this makes it really hard to see, at a glance, if the case is relevant to something that is being researched.

  4. Bilal Ghafoor says:

    The decision notice section redesign is really unhelpful. Previously, there was a detailed summary of the case and one could read through a batch of fresh DNs in a few minutes and click on those that, not only were about an exemption relevant to the reader, but know something of the issue. Now, there is only part of a sentence and no full summary – basically, this means that one has to click on each DN to get any idea what it is about. This makes research really difficult for FOI officers who are trying to keep abreast with what is going on and learn best practice.

    • icocomms says:

      Thanks for your feedback, it’s really useful. We’ve now made some changes, including to show the full summary for each result. Also, you’ll now see the latest DNs immediately when you open the page, instead of having to do a search. Hope that helps!

  5. Susan Dallas says:

    My security software tells me that the security certificate for was issued for a different website (Presumably your previous website). I am unable to access the new site without disabling my security (I have accessed your website from an alternative system in order to let you know.) I previously had difficulties with your publications pages and your contact us pages and had to phone your press office in order to page on the message. It appears the message is not getting across and until this is problem fixed I will be unable to use the ICO webpages.

  6. Baz says:

    I’d like you to include when a guide or other document is updated (and the version). It is really difficult to see what has been changed when and thus to keep using old guidance. being able to sort a full list of publications by the published date would be a quick way to see what has changed as I know roughly when I last had a look.

  7. Pingback: – remaining sections now live | ICO Blog

  8. Christopher Whitmey says:

    Today I’ve looked at the ‘For the public’ and ‘Report a concern’ sections. I’ve found them clear and well laid out. Has someone been reading Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability? The best book I know on the topic.
    A vast improvement on website 😉
    Just one suggestion to gild the lily. The cookie icon bottom left of screen. With just a ‘C’ and a gear wheel I did not know what it referred to: gearwheel = settings, ok – but ‘C’? Normally associated with copyright. Instead of small triangle what about a small rectangle with ‘cookies’?

  9. desi says:

    You need to sort out all the links within documents. Many return a “page not found” or “Server not found” message. Until this is sorted, the “rebuilt” service is hindering rather than helping everyone who uses the service.

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