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Invuse Charity Golf Day for RNIB with Marco Penge

Hosted at West Hill Golf Club in Brookwood, Surrey, Invuse held its first charity golf day in support of our friends at RNIB, the UKs leading sight loss charity.

Following a welcome, event briefing and an early morning breakfast networking session, our group of golf enthusiasts were then treated to a special appearance on the practice tee by English professional golfer Marco Penge.

Covering a whole range of topics, Penge went on to share his experiences of the professional tour and provided tips and tricks on everything from how to choose the right club, the importance of a good stance and improving ball striking.

Our guests then embarked on a full round of golf around one of Surrey’s fabulous heathland courses competing for group and individual prizes on top of awards for longest drive and nearest pin.

Back at the club house, the guests were treated to some refreshments before being reminded of the great work of RNBI by Dave Williams – Customer Experience Manager at RNIB – who shared his personal experience of living with sight loss. He then went on to explain about some of the daily challenges blind and partially sighted people face and how RNIB is helping people with a visual impairment thrive and live independently.

Spurred on by Dave’s story, Invuse’s Managing Director Jamie Garrett then led a charity auction and raffle which featured a range of one-off experiences and gifts kindly donated by local businesses, contacts and friends of Invuse.

The result?​

Thanks to everyone’s generous donations, we’re pleased to confirm that we surpassed our target and raised over £2,000 to help RNIB continue their great work and raised their profile to many more.

“We take great pride in being the voice of all end users. Invuse is a huge advocate for accessibility and our charity golf day was the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of this. We hope the money raised will help raise awareness and support RNIB.”
Jamie Garrett
Invuse MD
“We are incredibly grateful for Invuse’s charitable efforts for RNIB. The golf day looked fantastic and brought people together to learn more about sight loss and the vital services that the charity provides. The funds raised will help us to continue to help blind and partially sighted people across the UK.”
RNIB See differently logo
Georgia Pallett
Regional Fundraising Manager at RNIB

See the person, not the sight loss - RNIB's latest campaign

About the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.

RNIB. See differently – www.rnib.org.uk

About Invuse

Invuse work with 30+ UK Public Sector organisations to create inclusive digital experiences for all, by discovering and understanding users’ challenges and putting accessibility at the forefront of their work. Supported by RNIB, the company launched a video series last year, #AccessibilityToMe, which aimed to increase awareness around the challenges and misconceptions about digital accessibility.
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Invuse shortlisted for TWO Surrey Business Awards

We are so excited to share that Invuse has been shortlisted for two awards at Platinum Media Group Ltd’s Surrey Business Awards 2022!

We’re really excited for the awards ceremony taking place on Thursday November 3rd 2022 at G Live in Guildford, and have everything crossed.

Invuse - Shortlisted for Start-up of the Year

“This award recognises a business with entrepreneurial aptitude, vision, ambition, drive and commercial acumen to build a successful enterprise from start-up.”

Developed from the learning and expertise acquired over several years by Invotra Group, the Invuse team have worked tirelessly to deliver quality services.

Using an innovative approach to user research, accessibility and content, Invuse has helped 30+ UK Public Sector organisations and businesses of all sizes to transform their digital communications platforms. By redefining, redesigning and rebuilding digital communication strategies and websites, Invuse creates accessible digital products that better align user behaviours, motivations and needs whilst meeting your organisation’s objectives. In short, we help you to be the voice of your end user.

"To be a finalist for ‘Start-up of the Year’ is an amazing achievement for us all. There are so many start-ups in Surrey and we’re in the top 5 and this achievement is testament to all of our team and their hard work which deserves to be recognized.”
Jamie Garrett
Invuse MD

Jamie Garrett - Shortlisted for Young Professional of the Year

“Recognising the achievements of a young professional aged between 18-30 who has achieved a level of business success that defies their age. Their story will demonstrate tenacity, determination and will be known by peers/mentors as ‘one to watch’.”

Starting as a team of 3 – all of which were apprentices – Jamie led, grew and established the start-up which in the first 12 months, saw the team exceed their ambitious £500,000 target by 30% ( achieving £650,000), whilst building a customer base of up to 14 different organisations. Together they built a brand and a marketing strategy that saw Invuse beat global leaders in communication to deliver projects for high profile customers, such as Houses of Parliament, DWP, and lead multiple Local Gov UX projects with the likes of Surrey Heath Borough Council to reinvent how they could better support residents and other audiences as well as saving the council time and money.

“He [Jamie] is a ball of energy, an extremely inspirational leader. People want to work with him and for him. That is something recognisable and that's the single greatest thing you can give to a growing company like ours.”
Paul Zimmerman
COO, Invotra Group
“Jamie is a joy to work with and this award is well deserved. His energy and passion for accessibility and for being the voice of the end user has ensured that Invuse has grown rapidly. Jamie works tirelessly, ensuring that as a team we are able to consistently deliver projects which exceed our customers expectations. His sense of humour is infectious, and he has created a company culture that empowers staff to take risks, excel and to genuinely love their jobs.”
Leila Dewhurst
Customer Success Director, Invuse
“Jamie has always been a beacon of support and knowledge, a mentor and manager who works tirelessly to better himself and the teams around him. He’s always ensured that as a business we consistently deliver projects that exceed our customers' expectations and put smiles on faces.
Ryan Taylor
Programme Director, Invuse

Jamie’s Career Highlights to date

Jamie’s dedication to the company, the team, our customers and mission of creating inclusive digital experiences is unmatched. Just take a look at what he’s already achieved:

  • A Software Development L3 Apprentice (with distinctions)
  • A Chartered Management Degree L5 Apprentice
  • Overseen phenomenal business growth taking the business from loss making to profitability within 18 months
  • Increased Invuse’s customer base by 45%
  • Grown the Invuse team by 266.66%
  • Created and led a campaign called ‘#AccessibilityToMe’ to spread awareness of the struggles that some people are faced with in the digital world
  • Shortlisted as one of 10 finalists in the country as ‘Young Digital Leader of the Year’ by Digital Leaders
“Within a year, I’d like to lead Invuse to achieve 50% ARR, 150% further team growth and break into the American market. In the next 5 years, I want Invuse to be the highest contributor of revenue amongst subsidiaries within the 44B Group / Invotra Group. I’d then see that our 10 year ambition will see Invuse become a reputable User Experience and Accessibility agency supporting 50% of organisations from both UK Public Sector.”
Jamie Garrett
Invuse MD

About the Surrey Business Awards

The Surrey Business Awards celebrate the best innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs in the county.

The awards recognise the achievements of all kinds of businesses, large and small, across different sectors in Surrey. It is THE business event in the county with a huge reach and enviable reputation.

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Jamie Garrett – DigiLeader’s DL100 Young Digital Leader of the Year Finalist

Jamie Garrett

Invuse are pleased to confirm that Managing Director, Jamie Garrett has been shortlisted for Young Digital Leader of the Year (2022) by DigiLeaders!

This category recognises the extraordinary achievements of young people aged 16-30 in the digital transformation space. Jamie was one of 9 other finalists whose actions in the past year have made them stand out as a leader in the transformation of their sector.

“Jamie completely re-engineered how we run client software projects and brought a real rigour of customer outcomes, he delivers them the way we have never done before.“

Fintan Galvin – CEO, Invotra Group

“He is a ball of energy, an extremely inspirational leader. People want to work with him and for him. That is something recognisable and that’s the single greatest thing you can give to a growing company like ours.”

Paul Zimmerman – COO, Invotra Group

The winner is determined through a joint judging panel and a public vote, so please take 30 seconds to register your support for Jamie!


Jamie’s Journey

Jamie has worked tirelessly to make a real difference  creating inclusive digital experiences for all and helping organisations such as HMRC, Home Office, Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), Department for Transport, and NHS Test and Trace, meet their business objectives. His passion for user-focused platforms and accessibility for all end users – especially those with disabilities – is infectious and is one which he has aligned Invuse’s vision.

Since Jamie was appointed Managing Director, Invuse – the new name for Invotra Consulting – has continued to exceed their financial targets set by the groups. The team has grown by 366% (from 3 to 14 people), with a scope to hire another 4-6 employees. Jamie is keen to support Invotra’s multi-award winning apprenticeship scheme, as he is proof that there is an opportunity to learn and flourish within the workplace.

In the last year, Invuse has seen a 45% increase of their customer base (from 14 to 31) and partnered with some amazing organisations and initiatives that are creating an inclusive digital experience for all. This professional services company now has an annualised £1million revenue run-rate.

Invuse’s mission is to connect the dots between what the user needs and the organisation’s goals. Jamie has been supporting 30+ UK Public Sector organisations with redefining, redesigning and rebuilding digital communication strategies and websites to better align user behaviours and motivations.

“Jamie is a real credit to the Invotra organisation, he’s professional, personable, attentive and always puts accessibility at the heart of everything he does.”

Joanne Delap – Product Manager, Department for Work and Pensions

“I have worked with Jamie for the last 6 years and have found him to be the consummate professional. He’s clearly driven and ambitious about his work and his passion for accessibility shines through.”

Tom Miles – Internal Communications Digital Channels Lead,  Department for Transport

Jamie’s Work

During the pandemic the demand for online services and remote working dramatically surged, which meant that organisations were faced with the reality that their platforms were not user-friendly. This was especially prevalent for users with limited sight or disabilities who reported difficulties navigating these platforms. That’s why last year, Jamie created and led a campaign called ‘#AccessibilityToMe’ to spread awareness of the struggles that some people are faced with in the digital world. To do so, Jamie met with disabled audiences around Surrey, collated their feedback and distributed thought-provoking videos so that their voices could be heard.  It was impactful and insightful, sparking a much bigger conversation.

“We are pleased that we’ve been able to work so closely with Invotra Consulting to improve digital accessibility for the two million people living with sight loss in the UK. By taking simple steps, effective change can be made whereby blind and partially sighted people can access the online world with no barriers to overcome.”

Robin Spinks, Strategic Partnerships Manager, RNIB

Jamie is determined to continue to change the narrative around accessibility for all users, ensure a level-playing field and lift barriers faced by disabed users and expand Invotra Consulting’s work across the UK and US.


Background

Jamie completed the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) L5 over a 24 month period, which enabled him to elevate what he had learned in the workplace. He applied those skills and helped Invotra Ltd design and build key departments from the ground up including Learning and  & Development, Account Management and Live Service.  He took the lead on implementing some of the UK Government’s largest digital communications project rollouts for HMRC, Home Office, Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), Department for Transport, and NHS Test and Trace, as well as local councils. 

In addition to raising £5,000 running the London Marathon for The Brain Research Charity – in 2019 Jamie was appointed by Fintan Galvin, CEO, to head up a new company, Invotra Consulting. Starting as a team of 3 – all of which were apprentices – Jamie would lead, grow and establish the start up through the initial stages. Together they built a brand and a marketing strategy that saw Invuse beat global leaders in communication to deliver projects for high profile customers, such as Houses of Parliament, and DWP.  In the first 12 months, the team exceeded their ambitious £500,000 target by 30%, achieving £650,000, whilst building a customer base of up to 14 different organisations.

“Jamie is a joy to work with. His energy and passion for accessibility and for being the voice of the end user has ensured that Invotra Consulting has grown rapidly. Jamie works tirelessly, ensuring that as a team we are able to consistently deliver projects which exceed our customers expectations. His sense of humour is infectious, and he has created a company culture that empowers staff to take risks, excel and to genuinely love their jobs. ”

Leila Dewhurst – User Experience Specialist, Invuse

They built a solid customer base, including Surrey Heath Borough Council and led a UX project to reinvent how they could better support residents and other audiences as well as saving the council time and money. 

Jamie finally established Invuse’s place in the digital ecosystem, positioning the business as user research and digital accessibility specialists to help organisations to be  ‘the voice of your end users’.

Jamie is extremely excited for what the future holds and making an impactful difference in the digital world, he plans to use his passion and experience to help organisations design digital services for end users with end users. 

Follow Jamie Garrett on LinkedIn.

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Blogs Accessibility communications consulting

Documents: An accessibility conundrum

leila

It’s been over three years since the accessibility legislation came into effect, and for many of us, despite the steep learning curve, heading structures, meaningful alt text and contextual link text are now part of our everyday life. 

What’s interesting is that more and more, we’re seeing the accessibility of digital platforms move out of the realms of being the responsibility of the digital or web team. Instead, we’re starting to see the transition to accessibility becoming embedded within organisations, which, if you ask me, is how it should be. Accessibility is everyone’s responsibility, it makes lives better.

The great conundrum

However, the conundrum I see time and again is around documents. When I run accessible content training workshops, this is when attendees realise that they’ve got a lot of work to do – this doesn’t make me very popular!

The main issue is typically centred upon the huge quantity of documents (Word docs, PDFs etc.) which are essentially “hanging around” on public sector websites – this is especially prevalent to local councils.

My three-tier approach to documents

With documents I have a three-tier approach:

  1. Remove them being sure to archive the content elsewhere
  2. Turn them in to HTML content
  3. Make the document accessible

One thing I will say is that it is rare that you can go with just one of the above, and in reality you’ll end up having to choose a combination approach when tackling your documents.

The plot thickens

However, once you start digging into the issues with your documents, it is not always as easy to fix as you might at first hope, for example:

  • What do you do about third party documents?
  • What about documents that are automatically produced by a supporting system?
  • Don’t forget forms!

I should add that the below isn’t official or legal advice, but instead how I would personally approach each scenario. 

I am very interested in hearing more from people who have tackled any of these issues, and what outcome you achieved, so if you want to chat please get in touch.

So what are the solutions? Let’s take them one by one.


accessibility and third-part documents

Accessibility and third-party documents

This is a tricky one. The phrase I have seen most frequently is that the document is exempt because it has been produced by a third party and the public body didn’t pay for it. However, the thing that niggles me is you have control of your website, so you can choose whether to publish this document or not. In some cases, it’s a small change that transforms a document into being accessible.

My preferred approach? I really like Worcestershire County Council’s Digital Accessibility Requirements, as an example of best practice. Its no nonsense, no exceptions approach should ensure that all documents produced by a third party are accessible or they’re not going on the website. I have seen this approach adopted by other councils too, and it is definitely effective.

documents produced by a supporting system

Documents produced by a supporting system

First things first, establish if this is a bespoke in-house system or one that is widely and/or commercially available.

For the former, have a talk with your in-house team and explain what needs to be done to make the output (in this case a document) accessible. It might be easier to fix than you think.

For the latter, I would start by going direct and asking the supplier. If they support similar public sector organisations, then there is a chance they’ve been asked this before and will have a plan to fix the issues, or already have and you will need to be upgraded. If you’re met with reluctance, questioning or having to explain your organisation’s position, then it might be time to check when the contract is up for renewal. Write your requirements into your spec and re tender when you can.

documents produced by a supporting system

Creating Accessible Forms

PDF or Word document forms are a pain. Ideally of course you invest in a forms package or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform which blends seamlessly with your website. This h can provide not only an accessible option but also a better user experience for all – ever tried completing a PDF form on your phone?!

If this isn’t an option, has your Content Management System (CMS)  got a built in forms package? If so, this may offer an accessible user experience, but also act as a step change for your customer contact.

Failing that, you can try to make your PDF or Word forms accessible, it’s not always the prettiest and there are challenges. This should, in my opinion, be your worst case scenario as the  other two options are infinitely preferable. 


Thinking wider

In this meander, or blog if you prefer, we have really been talking about documents you want to add to your website, which date after September 2018. Documents created before then, unless deemed essential to accessing a service (such as application forms or how to guides) are exempt.

However, for me the move towards accessible documents should extend beyond just what you publish on your website or digital platform. For example, if you send a letter in the post and the customer prefers font size 18 are you providing that? What about the guidance you email out when a customer calls, is that formatted in an accessible way?

If you can move document accessibility out of the digital realm and into the wider world of businesses and good customer service, by taking the time to train your staff on how to create an accessible Word document as part of their induction for example.  Taking this approach moves accessibility from something you do if you need a document published online, to how your organisation works and interacts with people – for me I see no downsides.

Accessible documents are not just for websites.

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Blogs

Marco Penge, Professional Golfer, now sponsored by Invuse

Invuse, who are dedicated to delivering quality, inclusive digital experiences for all users, has announced its official sponsorship of professional golfer, Marco Penge, who competes on the European Challenger Tour.

“I’m really excited for Invuse to be sponsoring Marco who is a rising star within the professional golf ranks. Watch out for the Invuse logo on his shirt and we look forward to seeing Marco battle it out at his next events. Best of luck Marco, on behalf of all at Invuse”

Jamie Garrett – Invuse Managing Director

About Marco Penge

Marco Penge had an illustrious amateur career, representing England from just 13 years old. At age 15, Marco won the highly coveted McGregor Trophy and the Under 18 Fairhaven Trophy. The following year, aged 16, he became the first player in history to successfully defend both titles. Marco turned professional in 2019 and it didn’t take him long to get into the winners circle, capturing the Prem Group Irish Masters on the EuroPro Tour. Several other top results that season saw Marco finish in 3rd place on the seasons Order of Merit which comfortably graduated him up to the Challenge Tour.

Marco has had a strong start to his 2022 campaign, already finishing 4th in the SDC Open and he currently finds himself in 27th on the Challenge Tour rankings with the season just about to properly kick start as it makes it way to Europe for the summer, starting next week at the Challenge de Espana.

Very excited to announce that I have signed a new partnership agreement with Invuse (the new name for Invotra Consulting) who are dedicated to delivering quality, inclusive digital experiences for all users. I’m very much looking forward to representing them out on the Challenge Tour this year ☺

Marco Penge – Professional Golfer

Marco is represented by global sports agency, Wasserman. Follow Marco’s tour progress via Twitter and Instagram.


About Invuse

Our mission is to connect the dots between your users’ needs and your organisation’s objectives. By giving users and stakeholders a voice, we enable you to deliver quality, inclusive digital experiences designed with people at the core.

Find out more about our User Experience, Accessibility and Content services we provide organisations.

Contact:

Email: lucy.bloomfield@invuse.com
Website: invuse.com
Address: Invuse Limited, Spaces, One Albion House, Unit 6 High Street, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6BG

Socials:

Twitter: @invotraconsulting 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/invuse

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Invuse – the new name for Invotra Consulting

We’re pleased to announce the launch of Invuse – the new name for Invotra Consulting!

This new name represents the continuation of what has been a hugely exciting journey for all. In the last 18 months, our ambition, determination and drive to transform digital experiences – not to mention our team – has grown exponentially, and we feel that now is the time to create a new identity for ourselves.

What does Invuse stand for?

Invuse - the new name for Invotra Consulting

Our mission is to connect the dots between your users’ needs and your organisation’s objectives. By giving users and stakeholders a voice, we enable you to deliver quality, inclusive digital experiences designed with people at the core.

“Invuse wants to help your organisation to become the voice of your end user and is the culmination of many months of planning and discussion. We’re tremendously proud of what we’ve achieved as Invotra Consulting and the positive feedback we’ve received from our clients. The future remains bright and we remain committed to making positive change through digital experiences.”

Jamie Garrett – Invuse Managing Director

“Invuse represents a real shift in the way we’re able to support organisations to overcome their challenges and this new name is yet another stepping stone to providing a suite of solutions. Jamie and his team have done an extraordinary job in such a short time and we’re really excited for their future and seeing Invuse flourish.”

Fintan Galvin – Invotra Group CEO

So, what does this mean for you? 

Aside from a different company name, you shouldn’t notice any change in the way we operate here at Invuse. You’ll still be working with the same amazing team who will continue to support you and deliver at every step of your project. 

Invuse – services to help you become the voice of your end users

As part of our transition to Invuse, we’ve also been working hard to redefine and simplify our service offering to three key pillars:  

  • User Experience – we’ll help you build platforms your users will love to use
  • Accessibility – we’ll help you create an inclusive digital experience for 100% of your users
  • Content – we’ll help you Create content to engage and inspire your organisation

Our decision to simplify came as a direct result of customer feedback and a deep analysis exercise to better understand our customers, their organisational needs of the now and the future, and the challenge of remaining agile in a competitive marketplace. 

“The launch of Invuse is the start of yet another exciting chapter for the Invotra Group. Despite the challenges of the last few years, the Invuse team has exceeded expectations and we’re confident that our approach is what organisations want and need to move their digital experiences forward.”

Paul Zimmerman – Invotra Group COO 

Invuse – the new name for Invotra Consulting

We’d love to hear what you think of our new name, mission and services so please do get in touch – we’d be delighted to tell you more and to answer any questions you may have and what Invuse means to you and your organisation.

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Blogs business analysis communications consulting Solutions ux

Dyslexia Week 2021 – Keri Harrowven shares her story

As part of National Dyslexia Week the British Dyslexia Association has asked the dyslexic community to share their stories, to raise awareness and to help others with dyslexia feel understood.

Keri Harrowven, Digital Workplace Consultant at Invuse, – the new name for Invotra Consulting – shared her experience of dyslexia with us. Keri is keen to support the British Dyslexia Association’s belief that everyone with dyslexia has the power to create positive change, and she champions the work of Made By Dyslexia, that dyslexia is a superpower, with game changing strengths in creative, problem-solving and communication skills.

When did you realise that you were having challenges and that you were dyslexic?

At school I struggled with English, with reading, writing etc. When this was recognised by my teachers I was put in a ”special” class (an extra class on top of usual lessons) where they drummed into us the rules of grammar!

At no point did anyone use the word dyslexia. At parents evenings teachers would give my parents the feedback that I just couldn’t be bothered, and wasn’t trying or that I was clever, but lazy.

Thankfully I had parents who believed in me, knew I wasn’t lazy and didn’t let the comments from teachers dictate my confidence or my future opportunities.

It still breaks my heart that dyslexia isn’t picked up earlier in lots of cases.

How has dyslexia impacted you?

Dyslexia has given me the magical combination of being creative, detail focused and analytical. I feel confident this has been of great benefit throughout my career.

Now, working as a Digital Workplace Consultant at Invuse, I believe my dyslexic thinking skills enable me to uncover and analyse the detail of customers needs. Working with clients like Houses of Parliament, NHS Trusts and when onboarding all of our new clients, I feel dyslexia allows me to creatively deliver a great digital user experience.

What support or help have you received for your dyslexia?

I have had no support for my dyslexia! I had to teach myself to recognise the shape of words. I have to see a word written down, before I can begin to know how to spell it and write it myself.

Do you have an achievement or story, linked to your dyslexia, you would like to share?

I left school with only CSEs and did a year at sixth form to get my one O-level in Maths.

However, when I started work, I immediately could see that I was not actually ‘stupid’, as my teachers had so often made me feel. I was, infact really quite clever when it came to doing the things you need to succeed in the real world of work.
It was when I started working with computers, with a spell check that I really came into my own.

While working for the National Trust I created spreadsheets for the properties to record their daily income. This was previously done manually, on big sheets of paper. I then worked with a developer to build their first database system, to record the income, and this began my passion for delivering a great user experience. I’ve been working in digital development ever since.

I went on to build the first 3 intranets for the National Trust, moving into internal communications and I am now a Digital Workplace Consultant. My passion and knowledge of all things usability and accessibility continually grows. My work at Invuse ensures usability and accessibility are integral to all platforms, to deliver a great experience to all users.

Do you have any advice for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia, or who, like you, recognises they are dyslexic?

This is your superpower, and you can do anything you want with it. Check out Made By Dyslexia for inspiration for everything you can achieve.

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Blogs business analysis communications consulting Solutions ux

How to prepare, and launch, your new website – The ultimate guide for website managers and content owners

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

We’ve all been there. At first, things were great, better than great even. Together you were a dynamic duo that others envied. But, now things have changed. While you want to evolve and progress, the other has stymied and stubbornly stays the same. Sure, they make a bit of effort but really you know things have come to an end, and you’re just delaying the inevitable. The longer you leave it the worse it gets, and the more complicated it will be to start afresh.

Websites. Anyone who has managed a website will most likely have been in this situation at one point or another. Your current website has run its course and whether it’s because you simply can’t build or adapt your existing site anymore, the code is no longer supported or the costs for updating and maintenance have spiralled – or a combination of all – we all know when it is time to start preparing for change.

Just knowing it is time to change doesn’t make it any easier to start though. If you’ve already got the proverbial t-shirt, you probably also have the scars to match. If this is your first time the prospect might be completely overwhelming.

For the purpose of this article, we’re assuming you already have buy-in from your leadership team/stakeholders to start looking around. So, ignoring the various hoops of procurement for now, let’s break this down into the steps you need to take to prepare.

Step 1: Discover what works, and what doesn't work, on your website now

Before deciding what changes should be made, you need to work out what’s working and not working for you now. Take a look at your existing site. What’s good, what’s bad and, most importantly, where are the gaps that you will need to review to meet the needs of your end users? For this step, you should cast the net wide.

Engage stakeholders

Start by speaking to your stakeholders to understand their vision and requirements for your new website. What problems could it solve for their team? How could it make their service more efficient?

Interview end users

Next come your end users. What do they think of your current site? Why are they visiting? Did they manage to complete their task/find out what they need? If you can form a focus group to explore some of the common themes in more detail.

Review your analytics

Take a deep dive into your stats and analytics – common search terms, length of time on the website, bounce rate – really take a close look so you understand how your site is performing.

Identify the ROT

Carry out a Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial (ROT) analysis on your content, so you know what you’re dealing with. What you find here will help inform your project delivery timeline.

Learn from the successes and failures of your peers

Speak to people outside of your organisation. Depending on your industry sector people may be really happy to share their experiences with you. I’ve worked across the charity and public sector and normally a call or an email to another organisation will prove really useful, and other teams are more than happy to share.

Of course some desktop research doesn’t go amiss and if you can organise some soft market testing or demos with suppliers even better.

Step 2: Analyse the priorities for your new website

Analyse the priorities for your new website 1. Work out your requirements - remember to look at technical, legal and service 2. Decide on your priorities 3. Plan a roadmap to continuously evolve 4. Find out if any requirements would be better delivered by a different application 5. Include development and ongoing support in your requirements 6. Benchmark and set some KPIs for your new site. 7. Create user personas to guide the design of your new site and content

So you’ve researched your socks off and spoken to everyone? It’s time to analyse.

Tease out the requirements for your new website from your research, don’t forget to look at technical, legal and service requirements you need to comply with, such as WCAG 2.1 Accessibility Guidelines.

You will also need to prioritise these requirements, what must your website have vs what would it be great if it could have? An approach I would always recommend using here is to create a 3, 6 and 12 month roadmap that allows you to continuously enhance your website. Use the MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could, Would) methodology to deliver the “Must haves” and “Should haves” for launch.

A word of warning here – when putting together the requirements for your website make sure you’re doing exactly that. It is easy to get carried away and add requirements for a whole host of additional functionality which support your digital roadmap, when actually that requirement is better served by a different application. The requirement here would be something along the lines of “ability to connect/integrate to a third party site, probably through the use of an API”.

Also make sure you think about what type of service model you will need to meet your ongoing needs, and put these into your requirements. If you don’t have an inhouse developer, make sure you include development and ongoing support in your requirements – you want to make sure you have a website that moves with you rather than finding that you’re stuck with an ailing website 18 months after launch.**

Now is also a good time to benchmark and set some KPIs for your new site. Of course your analytics are a great source for some of this information, but don’t forget to include some stats from your user surveys. If you work in an industry that is open to sharing information you may also have access to how other comparable organisation’s sites perform and want to include some of this information.

Spend time going through your user research and creating user personas. These will prove invaluable when you’re designing your new site and writing content. By really understanding your target audience, and their key user journey you can create a site and content which reflects and meets their needs.

*For those that know me well, you will know that right now I’m whispering (in my outdoor voice) – “Open Source”, “Drupal”, “Collaboration”.
**If you work in local government, the Local GovDrupal project is really worth taking a look at, for a true collaborative service and development model.

Step 3: Design your new website and implement your changes

Tender and procurement

Of course the first part of this is most likely the tender and procurement process – if you have a particular deadline you have to meet for the delivery of your new site, make sure you include this in the procurement process so that everyone is aware of your timescales.

Once you have your selected supplier, there will no doubt be a kick off meeting for the project and various steps they will need to take in order to deliver your new site.

Content and IA

My advice here, if you haven’t already, is to start thinking about your content and information architecture now. Use your user personas and ROT analysis to ensure your IA and content are clear and user friendly.

As part of your analysis you will have most likely looked at content and identified areas of improvement. If you move to your new site without addressing these issues the chances are your new site won’t be as successful as you’d like. It’s time to edit, rewrite and delete so that your new content truly meets the needs of your end users.

If your content is already in pretty good shape this can be straightforward, and you may even consider content migration and then editing on your new site instead. However, most of the projects I’ve been involved in have had a substantial amount of content work and I have opted to eschew content migration to ensure that everything has been looked at.

You don’t have to do this alone – speak to the subject matter experts in your organisation, utilise your existing team or bring in a content specialist. I’d also suggest plenty of tea and an afternoon Hobnob to get you through.

New functionality

You also need to consider any new functionality you’re bringing in as part of your new site or that you need to connect with. Online forms, maps, payment portals, SSO, CRM, databases… make a list, get it on the project plan and start speaking to people now.

Design your new website and implement your changes 1. Agree deadline 2. Hold a kick off meeting 3. Use your user personas and ROT analysis to plan IA and update content 4. Complete any content migration 5. Consider any new functionality needed

Step 4: Maintain and evolve the amazing website you've created

Woohoo! It’s launch day. Due to your thorough preparation you are launching on schedule, you madly hit refresh while you wait for the new site to go live and once it does the sense of relief and accomplishment is fantastic. Perhaps you celebrate with a fancy coffee, or by booking that holiday you have been dreaming of since the start of this project.

But what else? Maintain and evolve. At the beginning you will most likely be focussed on ensuring that the site is performing as expected and making minor changes to content, but after that has worn off it’s time to think about what next. It might be that you have already identified what’s in scope for phase 2 of your project, in which case you can start to map this out and plan. If not it’s time to revisit your original discovery and map out what’s coming next for your website.

I’d also be tempted to rerun your user survey now, if you need to secure funding for the next step of your project these can be quite handy in building your business case and also provide an early indication on the success of your launch.

Once you’ve done this? See Step 1…

Maintain and evolve website 1. Ensure that your site runs as expected 2. Make your content changes 3. Map out what’s coming next for your website 4. Re-perform your user experience survey
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WCAG 3.0 – the next generation of accessibility guidelines

WCAG 3.0 is coming and everything is changing including the name.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 were released in 1999. By the time WCAG 2.0 were released in 2008 the web had undergone huge changes and WCAG 2.0 gave us a new generation of accessibility guidelines to follow. We are now at the same point again; the way we design, build, and use technology has changed in the intervening years and so the time has come for the next generation of accessibility guidelines to emerge.

Let’s start with the name. Too much has been invested in WCAG as an acronym for it to be set aside, so with a small sleight of hand, the new version will be the W3C Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG 3.0.

When you look for information about WCAG 3.0 you’ll find references to the Silver Guidelines and the Silver Task Force. This is because work on WCAG 3.0 is being done by the Silver Task Force of the W3C Accessibility Guidelines Working Group. It was called the Silver Task Force because it needed a name and a name for the new guidelines had not yet been decided. The name came from the chemical symbol for silver, which is AG, which also happens to be the acronym for Accessibility Guidelines.

A common criticism of WCAG 2.x is that they are hard to read, hard to understand, and hard to interpret. They are also constrained to a structure (Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA) that is completely rigid and there are gaps that mean certain groups are less well recognised than others, people with cognitive disabilities for example.

While WCAG 2.1 and the forthcoming WCAG 2.2 attempt to close some of those gaps, they are still confined to the same basic framework of principles, guidelines, SC, and levels. WCAG 3.0 aims to move away from that to a whole new architecture.

 

Guidelines, outcomes and methods

We know that WCAG 3.0 will consist of multiple guidelines; each guideline will have multiple outcomes; and each outcome will have one or more methods.

The guidelines will be written in plain English. They will be based on functional needs, grouping multiple outcomes together, and will be independent of specific types of technology. The idea is that anyone will be able to read and understand the guidelines, that they will focus on a person’s ability to do something, and that meeting the guideline does not depend on any particular type of technology.

We know that WCAG 3.0 will consist of multiple guidelines; each guideline will have multiple outcomes; and each outcome will have one or more methods.

The guidelines will be written in plain English. They will be based on functional needs, grouping multiple outcomes together, and will be independent of specific types of technology. The idea is that anyone will be able to read and understand the guidelines, that they will focus on a person’s ability to do something, and that meeting the guideline does not depend on any particular type of technology.

One of the proposed guidelines is: Provide text alternative for non-text content.

An outcome associated with that guideline is:

Outcome: Text alternative available

A text alternative for non-text content is available via user agents and assistive technologies, which allows users who are unable to perceive and / or understand the non-text content to determine its meaning.

The outcome is associated with one or more functional categories. In this case the categories are:

  • Sensory – Vision & Visual

  • Sensory Intersections

  • Cognitive – Language & Literacy

  • Cognitive – Learning

  • Cognitive – Memory

  • Cognitive – Mental Health

  • Cognitive & Sensory Intersections

The outcome also has one or more methods associated with it. For example:

Bronze, Silver and Gold

We know that WCAG 3.0 will not use Level A, Level AA, or Level AAA. The thinking is that levels like this are OK for making statements of legal conformance, but they are not a good reflection of real accessibility. A website could pass 29 of the 30 Level A SC and 19 of the Level AA SC and still not declare itself to be accessible under WCAG 2.x as used in law. So a more nuanced way of measuring conformance is needed.

This is still up for discussion and could change before WCAG 3.0 are released, but the current proposal is that it will be a points based system. Each guideline will be given a score between 0% and 100%, and a score of 100% equals 1 point.

Let’s take a (likely but theoretical) guideline as an example: all informative images must have a text description. If there are 100 informative images on a page and 90 of them have text descriptions, the page would score 90% or 0.9 of a point.

As each guideline is assessed the total number of points is updated. The proposed model then goes on to use a three tier system, using Bronze, Silver, and Gold, instead of Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like the old Level A, Level AA, and Level AA model, you’re right in one sense; whether we like it or not, laws and policies will always demand a rigid statement of conformity. For everyone else there is an important difference though – the points based model means that progress from one tier to the next can be measured, and that implicitly encourages efforts to reach the next tier.

There is another subtle but vital difference with this model – it recognises success, instead of focusing on failure. Under the WCAG 2.x model if you fail an SC, that’s that. Under WCAG 2.x, a single informative image with a missing text description fails SC 1.1.1; it doesn’t matter how many other images there are, or how good their text descriptions are, that one missing text description means you’ve failed to meet that SC. Under the proposed WCAG 3.0 model that same missing text description might mean you score 0.9 instead of 1.0, but it recognises all the text descriptions that were provided whilst still acknowledging that one was missing.

Timetable

It takes time to produce a W3C Recommendation, the formal name for a standard that has been published under the W3C’s Process for peer review and production readiness, but the first milestone on that journey is called a First Public Working Draft (FPWD). The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group is currently preparing to publish the FPWD of WCAG 3.0, and if they agree it meets the criteria, we could see it released sometime in the next few weeks. An FPWD is still a long way from Recommendation though, and there is still much to be discussed, and much will change before WCAG 3.0 is formally released. In the meantime you can track progress and get involved in the discussion via the WCAG 3.0 (Silver) Github repository.

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Evolve your intranet with an agile approach

I’ve launched a few intranets over the last 20 years, however I found moving to an Agile framework truly set the intranet free!

To be perfectly honest I was probably a little sceptical the first time a development team said they wanted to use ‘Agile’. I had developed a good number of intranets over the years and ‘normal’ development approaches seemed to have worked fine in the past.


However I am always open to new challenges and happily signed up for ‘Certified Scrum Product Owner’ training and I really hit the jackpot. The trainer, Gabrielle Benefield (Evolve Beyond), was very experienced and extremely engaging. It was two days training but well worth making the time for, and by the end of the course I was hooked.

The basic steps of the Agile development framework are:

  • Gather the business requirements

    • Stakeholder interviews

    • User research

    • Business objectives

  • Analyse and break these requirements into the individual features and functionality to create a Product Backlog. Dan Radigan explains more in his article: The product backlog: your ultimate to-do list

  • Write ‘user stories’ for each item – “As an X, I want to Y, so I can Z”. This enables the developers and testers to understand who requires what, and why. One way of approaching this is a cognitive walkthrough, detailed in this blog by Brendan Carikas.

  • Work with the development team to estimate the time required to develop each item, then prioritise the items to deliver the Minimum Viable Products (MVP), to be ready to launch to the users

I was then ready to start the first ‘Sprint’, which in our case was two weeks long.

  1. On the first day of each ‘Sprint’ I met with the development team to go through the items I wanted them to work on

  2. Each morning I joined the ‘Stand up’ meeting with the development team to review the progress they had made the day before and hear what they would be doing that day. It also gave everyone a chance to ask any question that had arisen

  3. During the ‘Sprint’ we would meet to ‘Refine the Backlog’ to adjust and agree what were the priorities for the next ‘Sprint’

  4. As the developers finished each item in the ‘Sprint’ it was tested

  5. Then at the end of the ‘Sprint’ the developers demo each completed item

  6. And then it’s back to Step 1 to start the next ‘Sprint’

With Agile development, every bit of functionality becomes a moveable feast and can be refined and developed to hone the user experience.


It’s great because new requirements always come from left field and it allows you to re-prioritise features and functionality throughout the development process.


And after the go-live… Agile allows you to continue the development, to add new functionality and refine the intranet on an on-going basis. This ensures the intranet does not stand still and keeps the users engaged as new features are made available.


The Product Owner role proved to be time consuming but very satisfying! The quality of the end product is great if you put that time in, but it is well worth the effort.

My usability Golden Rules

I was very lucky to work with a great team of developers who with a little guidance from me soon came to share my own Golden Rules:

  • Technology should be invisible – no one cares what it’s built on

  • Never compromise on the quality of the user experience

  • And remember the user plea, ‘Don’t make me think!’