In November 2016 the Scottish Government (SG) will launch its new intranet, Saltire, as a place to work more efficiently, connect and collaborate. Our ambition is to position Saltire not as an intranet but as the hub for a ‘digital workplace’. Saltire launched as a beta to staff in February and is now in its 9th iteration.
To realise business benefit, the SG has placed its focus directly on the needs of users. This presentation highlights three key areas relating to good user experience that in turn are driving business benefit.
Adoption – build it and they will come doesn’t work when it comes to the intranet. Efficiency – making it as simple as possible for people to be effective in the job. Shared Services – developing a common design standard and making it more widely available across the public sector (and beyond?)
About the Scottish Government
Established in 1999, following Scottish devolution and the reinstatement of the Scottish Parliament, adjourned for 300 years. 1 First Minister, 1 Deputy First Minister, 8 Cabinet Secretaries, 13 Junior Ministers 5000 core staff, 11,000 users of our network (SCOTS) 8 Executive Agencies (e.g. Transport Scotland, Accountant in Bankruptcy, Education Scotland, Student Awards Agency for Scotland) 130+ Non Departmental Public Bodies
On taking office in 2014, Scotland’s First Minister set out a clear vision to ensure the Scottish Government (SG) becomes the most open and accessible government Scotland has ever had. The digital communications programme to redesign the SG’s corporate website, intranet and use of social media channels aligns closely to this vision.
However we do have a number of challenges on our digital landscape:
Diminishing budgets Longer term underinvestment in digital Ageing infrastructure (slow network speeds preventing moves to the cloud) Security concerns over moves to ‘cloud’ Fear/reluctance to embrace digital
For the last 18 months, we’ve been redesigning Saltire to make it simpler to use and to provide faster access to the right information and services. We have:
Cut down and standardised thousands of pages of content to hundreds (each aligned to a particular user need) Vastly improved the search engine. Redesigned the homepage to make it task oriented. Optimised the site for use on a mobile device.
Our strategy started out with numerous themes and ambitions but over time we’ve settled on 3 themes that articulate the new digital workplace. The arrow indicates where we think we’ve got to (good progress but still a lot of work to do)
Communication Simpler task-focused information Consistency - content formats Less is more - 50%+ reduction in content Responsive design
Productivity Apps to help you do more Better search Access via personal device
Collaboration Connect / find people Team and project spaces Secure working with stakeholders Shared Services
At the heart of the strategy is the user and the belief that creating a better user experience drives the other outcomes we desire – simpler communication, better productivity, greater collaboration.
Ensuring this ‘user-first’ principle is understood by our Subject Matter Experts has been a really useful tool in helping SMEs focus on developing the right content.
So for us the business impact of our desire to see simpler communications, better productivity and greater collaboration falls into three categories.
Driving adoption – ensuring that as many people as possible use the intranet Efficiency – making sure Saltire helps people perform simple tasks more efficiently Shared Services – the economies of scale that can be achieved by reusing the platform
We believe, because we’ve seen this on numerous other failed system implementations, that adoption is crucial to the success of the project – if no one is using the service how can you hope to have business impact?
Creating the best possible user experience is key but we’ve gone one step further and made use of social marketing techniques and nudge theory to drive adoption.
Right across Saltire we have identified hundreds of user needs and used them to develop the right task-focused content.
Here’s an example from our old intranet of when we got it badly wrong. Announcing the newly refurbished meeting spaces in St Andrews House we published lots of intranet content on the ‘Transforming our Workplace’ strategy with quotes from all the right people informing people how nice the rooms were and how they aligned to the progressive values of the organisation. What we failed to do was tell people how to book a room.
Driving adoption, we ran a competition whilst still in beta to get staff to add their picture to their new profile page.
Getting people to complete their profiles
Telling others a little bit about themselves Adding skills to allow others to find and connect with them Adding a profile photo
Competition launch day
Traffic increased from 270 users to 1602 Saltire news article had 13,169 views Posters and flyers distributed across 4 main SG buildings (Edinburgh and Glasgow) Nearly 1000 competition entries ( 25% of the Scottish Government)
We used our internal Yammer channel to keep people informed and spread the message. The Yammer channel on the Saltire project now has nearly 500 members (nearly 10% of the SG).
For those who weren’t enticed by the offer of free food and drink, our next piece of nudge theory will be to trial the addition of a badge to incomplete profiles.
1. Ugly profile picture here
2. Profile completion indicator
3. Making it mandatory
Helping users to become more productive and to access the right information quickly is a big part of how Saltire is being transformed.
We’re continuously improving Saltire based on user feedback. The beta is now in it’s 9th version and is a big improvement on version 1.0.
The homepage of Saltire provides users with an initial set of productivity tools that integrate with a number of external systems like our flexi system and vacancies website. The analogy we use is that the Saltire homepage is like a smart watch - it gives users access to notifications and common features from other systems without them having to go to the system itself. For example it now saves around 1 minute of a user’s time to clock in/out. With 5000 users clocking in/out around 4-6 times a day you can see how the efficiencies begin to stack up.
This is really just the beginning, and over time more apps will be added.
In addition to developing content based on user need, clear and consistent content formats have been used to simplify it even further. For example we user the ‘quick answer’ format for high volume user needs that can be answered with very little (2-3 paragraphs) content.
Every piece of content on Saltire is aligned to a content format. Other formats used regularly include a guide (multiple but related user needs), article (single user need), smart answer (
Every fortnight, we run user feedback workshops to hear from real people who use Saltire and to test new features with them. Saltire is now in its 9th iteration and hasn’t even launched as a live site yet.
Running the workshops and getting this kind of feedback has been vital in improving Saltire but also in raising awareness prior to launch.
We have 6 agencies (Transport Scotland, Education Scotland etc) that currently have their own sites sitting old Saltire. This sometimes causes problems because our old search engine is incapable of distinguishing between users – meaning people have the potential to see information that is at best not relevant and at worst inaccurate/misleading.
The new Saltire gives them all their own stand-alone intranets with shared standards and the potential to share content that is relevant to all agencies.
This is the home page for the main Scottish Government site
This is the home page for Students Awards Agency Scotland – same template, and functionality but their own branding and content
Again for Accountant in Bankruptcy
And Disclosure Scotland.
And Food Standards Scotland
Many of these agencies share core Scottish Government policies such and HR or Procurement
Centrally we can turn them on or off on their sites which save duplication and also ensures that everyone’s information is up-to-date.
They can locally add information or alternative policies as required
There is future scope to offer this to other public sector bodies (150+) in the longer term so the potential for cost savings to the Scottish public sector is huge.
After that Dave and myself would like to retire on the subscription fees…..
User focus equals business benefit - Dave Hall and Nicole Carter
Dave Hall Dave Hall @capitalduck
Nicole Carter @__nicolecarter
health, education, justice, transport, housing,
local government, environment…
To be the most open and
Scotland has ever had.