About directscot

DirectScot project leader.

How many websites does government need?

Just how many websites does government need? Here’s a round up of the websites created by the Scottish Government that we’ve found as part of the DirectScot project. Warning – there’s a lot!

60yearsofnhsscotland.org, actagainstharm.org, actiononsectarianism.org, actiononviolence.org, adultliteraciesonline.org, aib.gov.uk, airdiscountscheme.com, alba.gov.uk, alcoholawarenessweek.com, alcoholchallenge.com, alcoholdebate.com, alcoholscotland.org, aloscotland.org, anationalconversation.com, Continue reading

The technology behind DirectScot

DirectScot is an ambitious project because it attempts to aggregate content from a wide variety of sources and present them in a coherent and usable form. The data sources used by DirectScot all implement a range of different standards for the interchange of information. This means a lot of work is needed to merge content into a single content store.

The technical components in DirectScot have been designed to address this problem and to allow it to be extended to other data sources in the future. Continue reading

Designing for Many Devices – Responsive Design

DirectScot harnesses current and emerging trends in design for digital using flexible grids, flexible media and media queries to serve up the most appropriate experience. In short, DirectScot embraces the flexibility of responsive design, rather than seeing it as a hindrance.

We are currently in a period in which there has been a dramatic increase in the number of devices that websites are viewed on. Smartphone penetration continues to increase with more people predicted to access the internet via this method than PCs by 2013. At the same time we’ve witnessed huge growth in tablets, like the iPad and Kindle, presenting yet another range of screen sizes and capabilities for websites to deal with. Continue reading

What works and doesn’t work in the prototype

We’ve now had a really encouraging number of responses to the formal consultation, but if you haven’t already done so let us know what you think about DirectScot by completing the online response form.

The prototype produces lots of great search results, in fact we’re surprised at just how good some of the automatically generated links between related services are. However there are lots of things that just don’t work. Ironically, it’s often the fact that they don’t work that strengthens the case for DirectScot.

e.g. Student Finance

Searching for ‘student  finance’ Continue reading

User journeys

We’re now two weeks into the consultation and we’ve already had lots of useful feedback through the blog and the formal consultation. Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to try it out and have some thoughts on DirectScot.

The prototype blends information, services and campaign material from across government, at a national level from Directgov and Scotland.gov.uk and from four of Scotland’s 32 local authorities: Edinburgh City, Midlothian, South Lanarkshire and East Lothian. Using automatic location detection it then tailors the results of searches to your local authority area. To assist in showing you the breadth and depth of the services available through DirectScot, we have put together a range of fully-functioning user journeys.

Before that, a quick word of thanks to each of the local authorities for agreeing to be part of the prototype. The quality and structure of their websites helped greatly in trying to make sense of the vast amount of information in the DirectScot prototype. Special thanks to the teams at South Lanarkshire and Edinburgh City Continue reading

Why DirectScot? The rationale

The DirectScot prototype aims to bring to life the Scottish Government’s (SG) proposals for a better way of delivering the wide range of government information and services online.

The rationale for DirectScot is straightforward:

Simplifying the experience of government
We want to make it easier to find the right information from government and think that the current online landscape is both cluttered and confusing.  To give you some sense of this, in its first ten years since devolution the SG has built up a large portfolio of websites delivering government information. Each site presents the user with a different look and feel. DirectScot aims to facilitate greater consistency in user-experience. Put simply: understand one government site, understand them all.

Putting users first
People come to government websites for many reasons but all have the same desire – to find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible and then leave. We want to remove the barriers to this and believe that there should be greater emphasis on completing the task rather than insisting users wade through every word of the ‘small print’ first. In DirectScot, all the information you need is still available, but it is the task that takes priority.

Seeing the wood and the trees
It’s sometimes hard to find out exactly what you’re entitled to and to have confidence in the information you’re reading online. We want to provide citizens and business in Scotland with a comprehensive and authoritative view of all government services available to them at a national and local level and DirectScot aims to be that trusted portal.

Giving you a voice
We believe that user-engagement is a fundamental part of delivering better services and want to make it easier for you to have your say. It is the feedback from the community of users that holds the key to improving the delivery of public services. DirectScot aims to be a lead vehicle for this by enabling greater dialogue and listening to the wisdom of the crowd.

Reducing cost
DirectScot aims to make significant inroads into the cost of delivering government information online by reducing the duplication inherent in multiple technology platforms and by limiting associated costs such as hosting, design and branding. It also aims to do this by stripping back and re-homing the content from large numbers of centrally run SG sites within a single portal.

Establishing a platform to build on
We view DirectScot as a starting point not an end in itself. The future of online services will be shaped by users and by public sector organisations working in partnership. As part of DirectScot, we aim to build a suite of common applications for general use by government organisations and to assist in the development of shared online services. DirectScot also aims to facilitate the development of innovative products by publishing a wide range of government datasets.

Tell us what you think. You can comment on this blog by leaving feedback here. Please also contribute to the consultation on DirectScot.

The DirectScot Team