Blogs Accessibility communications consulting

Documents: An accessibility conundrum


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


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.


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!’

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5 UX design principles for communications platforms

Perhaps the most important goal for any UX design is clarity. A user logs in or adds something to their cart without thinking too much about how they’re doing it. They just get the job done be it on your app or your intranet.

The following five principles are based on getting stuff done simply, quickly and clearly because of good UX design.

What goes where and why — Structure

If you don’t understand your content — what it says, where it lives, how to find it — your users won’t either.

Before you can begin to think about UX design, grab your content and shake some logic into it. You’ve got to lay it all out and put it back together in an order that makes life easy for users.

Use speech cards, post-it notes, Google Sheets, mind maps, whatever you prefer; and figure out how to best organise your existing content and predict where future content will go.

To get you started, here’s Toby Ward and his, with some sample intranet architectures: Intranet information architecture: don’t reinvent the wheel.

Keep in mind the titles, labels and copy users will expect to see and search for too. If you do this, you’re taking a big first step towards good UX design. You’ve got everything you want, now put it together.

Where you put what and when — Details

Especially important when you start to break down the purpose of each page on your platform.

Think about each stage in a user’s journey, whether they’re navigating somewhere or completing a task. Figure out what needs to be shown and at what point.

Decide the weight of the headline, the length of a summary, where the tags go, related links and share icons… whether this content is fair game for comments, or if it’s locked down and read-only.

For consistency’s sake use templates, so if there are multiple publishers on your platform, the UX design is automatic and they can’t go rogue. This, significantly, establishes familiarity which is an essential part of clarity.
Every element and component should justifiably be there, that justification being the users need it to be there. Collect the data, do the user testing and stakeholder interviews, and then design, just as Paul Boag advises in his blog: Why Intranet design is so bad and how to fix it.

How long is it and does it scan — Interactions

We’re not going to get into the quality of content here. How well written something is or how evocative an image might be. No, we’re assuming that’s done.

What we want to do is set the boundaries for that content to work as best as it can.

Get your grid patterns and layouts right and users will effortlessly absorb your information. Flowing down the screen with a focus and concentration that’s all (well, 70% at least) down to your UX design skills.

  • Line length: Think about line length, are lines longer than 14 words. They shouldn’t be.
  • Font size: Think about font size, is any of your text less than 12 pt. It shouldn’t be.
  • Headings: Think about headings, are there consistent subheadings. There should be!

Also…make sure it’s obvious that a link and a download are different. These are the small details that make a big difference on a subconscious level. And in 2020, they’re just expected.

For instance, think about examples of outstanding UX design you interact with every day. Strive for that, be minimalistic and tidy.

What goes where again and again and again — Standardisation

In 1996, Bill Gates predicted that content would be king. He was right. Although in today’s internet of everything, where content is blasted out everywhere every millisecond, for UX design to work well… consistency is king.

When users rely on your communications platform to do their jobs, they want to be two steps in front of every click and tap. They should ‘get’ your design without too many trial and error experiences and soon just know how it works.

Standardisation is multi-layered, but for brevity and your concentration span, we’ll focus on the consistent placement of information.

If your sub navigation is always on the left in a three column grid, don’t move it to the bottom right of a four column grid in another page. If your downloads are at the bottom of a page, don’t move them to the top for the sake of mixing things up.

Because here lies the problem: if UX design is not standardised it competes within and against itself. Sounds messy, it is. Don’t do it.

Make your communications platform a clear and obvious space because everything’s consistent and in the right place.

Where everyone can go, without a problem — Accessibility

You cannot achieve good UX design if you have not considered all of your users.

From the visually impaired to the physically disabled, accessibility standards include the elderly and people with slow internet connections too.

The key here is usability.

To have factored into your UX design what works for everyone. Are links clearly links? Is an image necessary and if it is, does it have alt text? What happens if a user tabs through the screen; does the content hierarchy make sense?

This topic is just too big to cover here and do it justice, so here’s the link you need (and we subscribe to) for WC3’s ‘Accessibility principles’.

Good UX design = clear communications.

We hope you found our brief tips useful. And clear.

If you have any questions about the advice or topics we’ve mentioned, please get in touch with us.

As a consulting team, we work with enterprises across the world. It’s our job to ensure their professionals can connect with the information they need to get work done each day.

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Keri Harrowven joins Invuse as Communications Implementation Consultant

Invuse – the new name for Invotra Consulting – has added to its team of consultants with Keri Harrowven, a Communications Implementation Consultant. Keri will work with new and existing customers to transform and deliver internal communications platforms that focus on business and user needs in a time where remote working is the new norm.

Keri Harrowven, Commuications Implementations Consultant

Keri brings 20 years of intranet, communications and knowledge management, with a strong background in agile development, delivering creative communications solutions and creating outstanding digital user experiences.

"We are delighted to welcome Keri into our team. We've known Keri for many years now and feel that her knowledge and experience in helping customers identify and overcome their communications challenges, will really strengthen the team and what we can offer new and existing customers."

Invuse – the new name for Invotra Consulting – focuses on helping organisations with their internal communications strategies to enhance and deliver digital platforms that are designed with end users and data analytics at the core.

Invotra Group has spent over 5 years working with enterprise organisations ranging from 35 – 90,000+ employees, each having complex requirements and the need to constantly adapt and change. The structure of our services means organisations can look to Invuse for support at any stage of their project(s) for assistance, from discovery and research to support and maintenance.

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5 technical considerations when designing or procuring a new platform

Driving digital transformation can prove to be a challenging exercise with the vast number of options available. How do you choose a platform which aligns with your digital strategy and ecosystem?

The short answer is it completely depends on your strategy. Nonetheless, there are 5 considerations that should be reviewed whenever you design or procure a new platform.

Buy vs build

One of the first considerations for procuring a new platform is whether to build a bespoke solution in-house, buy one off the shelf, or go down the SaaS route.

There are advantages to each approach, but the main questions to answer are:

  • What problem are you trying to solve, and is there an out of the box solution/service which already solves it?
  • What are the associated costs?
  • When does the solution need to be delivered?

The last two points are notoriously difficult to get right if you plan on building a solution. Off-the-shelf and SaaS solutions commonly offer a transparent and fixed cost, or at least a predictable cost in terms of the latter, and are much faster to deploy and roll out to the wider business. The main trade-off here is less control over the application.

Data management & Integration

There’s nothing worse than having to manage the same data across multiple applications. In an ideal scenario, applications should only be concerned with the data they need to function, and any data that needs to be shared across applications should be managed between those applications to avoid duplication and a management overhead nightmare.

APIs can help alleviate this problem and help avoid reinventing the wheel by encouraging integration between applications in favour of rebuilding.

When deciding on a platform, consider:

  • What data needs to be shared between this application and existing applications?
  • What are the available options for managing data externally?
  • What APIs are available?
  • Would it be easier to integrate with certain parts of the application rather than replacing everything?

For example, if you need users to be able to authenticate against the application, you can automate the provisioning and de-provisioning process. This may come with an initial setup cost but will save a lot of manual intervention in the future.


This is somewhat related to the previous point. Generally speaking, the more data that is available over APIs, the more analytics can be gathered to help drive insights. This isn’t just related to APIs, there are plenty of other tools such as Google Analytics and Matomo which provide a different set of analytical tools, driven by the web traffic to the platform.

To be clear on the definitions:

Data: Information within the platform
Analytics: Discovering patterns and trends from that data
Insights: Obtaining value from those analytics to drive improvements throughout the organisation

The main considerations here are:

  • What analytics tools are available? (e.g. Google Analytics)
  • Outside of analytics tools, what is the availability of data which could be extracted by other means? (e.g. APIs, CSV extracts)

Analytics tools can help you answer many of the questions you face, to name a few:

  • Which areas of the platform are most popular?
  • How many users are using the platform on a regular basis?
  • Are there any parts of the platform which are redundant, and need a rethink/remove?
  • Where should we be focussing our energy with the platform in question?
  • What devices are users using to access the platform?
  • What time are users accessing different types of data?

Cross-platform support

Cross-platform support is basically a guarantee nowadays, especially with web applications. It’s easier than ever before to support working from mobile and tablet devices as well as a desktop.

More and more users expect this level of support from applications, whether that be to just check their calendar on their daily commute or to completely switch to a smaller device for certain types of work just based on preference.

Choosing a platform that enables this flexible approach to work will provide a better experience for end-users. Pair this with analytics and it will be easy to see which types of work are most popular with different platforms, and where to optimise certain areas of the platform.

Security & updates

Last but definitely not least, security. With cyber-attacks constantly on the rise, it’s crucial to make sure that your users and information are safe. As attacks evolve and become more advanced, so do the methods used to prevent them. Information security is something that needs to be constantly monitored and prevented, which in itself is a story for a separate blog. When specifically talking about securing a platform, one of the most common considerations is how to keep the platform as up-to-date as possible without disrupting other workflows.

This is one of the reasons SaaS models have become so popular. Updates (not necessarily security-related) and maintenance are handled by the supplier, often without any disruption, allowing you to focus on your users.

Talk to us

If we can support you with designing or procuring a new platform, or you’d simply like to learn more, please get in touch.

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4 key stages for effective business analysis

4 key stages for effective business analysis

With any internal communications platform, it is vital to embed an experience that supports your culture and is focused on meeting user needs.

In order to achieve a platform that meets all of your organisational needs, the process has to begin with a thorough analysis from all stakeholders and target audiences.

Ensure you have the means to discover and analyse the following:

  • What do your users want from the platform?
  • Who are the stakeholders, and what does success look like for them?
  • The process of transitioning business needs into technical requirements
  • How can you design the platform and the service model to allow you to continuously evolve your platform when your user needs change?

1. Understanding your users (User research)

The success of internal communications depends on analysing your end users, then fully understanding their behaviours, needs and motivations for using your current internal communications platforms.

To gather this information, a range of processes are available and one or all may be appropriate to your users:

  • User interviews can offer more in depth understanding of what does and does not work, perhaps to take place after a questionnaire or survey has helped to identify the main challenges your users are having.
  • Interactive Workshops that analyse a number of tasks that users would usually be asked to complete. Observations of your user’s behaviours can help to identify any challenges faced when completing the tasks.
  • Platform analytics allow a better understanding of the types of journeys your users are taking. Identifying recurring trends will help to understand challenges your users are facing.

Once feedback is gathered, analysed and combined with any available data analytics, you will have a better understanding of the bigger picture of the challenges your users face with your internal communication platforms.

This thorough evaluation of your previous or existing platform(s), will determine what things worked well and what things didn’t, helping you to create a plan to ensure your new platform meets all of your users’ needs.

2. Understand your data (Data mastery)

At this stage, you have established what you need to achieve and you are able to move on to the ‘how’.

Data Mastery & Integrations

It’s really important to understand the information your users are looking for on your platform, the types of data that provide this information, and where that data should be mastered.

Often, it’s a lot more beneficial to master your data in a ‘single source of truth’ and then integrate this into your platform(s). This prevents information becoming outdated and inaccurate across multiple platforms. For example, an Active Directory mastering all of your user data.

By analysing the data that will be included on your platform, you’ll have a better understanding of the stakeholders that you’ll need to engage as part of your project to avoid any surprises and gaps in resource.

3. Identifying your stakeholders (Stakeholder engagement)

Determining your success criteria demands an understanding of the requirements in all parts of your organisation. Different departments will have different goals so it’s important to implement a solution that meets as many needs as possible.

Defining the objectives involves identifying exactly what your stakeholders want. Do they need a tool to improve engagement and collaboration, or do they value a place to house all of your documentation such as policies and manuals more?

A successful solution requires you to connect the dots between all stakeholders, creating and structuring success criteria for your communications platforms, to deliver a meaningful outcome for each of your stakeholders and their users.

  • Creative stakeholder workshops can be useful, with the primary focus of understanding the collective thoughts of the wider team of what is and isn’t working with your content and communications strategy.
  • Stakeholder interviews, and using questionnaires and surveys, can also establish a clear understanding of their thoughts on current and prospective content and communication strategies.

Once you have established stakeholder requirements your information strategy reviews are made much more straightforward.

Everything achieved so far will be identified, and you will have a much clearer view of any challenges that may prevent you from delivering.

In identifying who your platform stakeholders are, you will also introduce accountability to the platform which will ensure the system is always valued and invested in.

With all this addressed, you are in a position to outline your initial vision, what you want to achieve and also establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress.

4. Identifying the best solution (Solution mapping)

Once you’re aware of:

  • the challenges your users are facing
  • the stakeholders who are going to help you make the platform a success
  • the types of data and information that will be on, or plugged into, your platform

all that’s left to do is select your preferred solution. At least you thought.

All of the above provides you with half of the information you need, the second half is actually understanding whether there is a platform on the market for you to procure out-of-the-box, or if you need to build it yourself and therefore find the resources to do so.

On many occasions, an out of the box product will never meet 100% of your requirements from the outset, so it’s important not to expect it to.

Categorise your final requirements into:

  • must haves
  • could haves
  • should haves

and focus primarily on finding a solution that delivers 90% of the former and allows you to get the ball rolling.

Then, work with a trusted supplier to define a roadmap that helps you achieve the final 10% and targets the could/should haves in the following 3-6 months.

Alternatively, if you have the resources to do so, map your requirements into technical specifications, along with user journeys, and the challenges that will be overcome, before designing and developing a new platform.

You don’t have to do this alone, there are some great suppliers out here with decades of experience in your section and others who have lots of learnings to share.

Remember, whether you procure an out of the box product, or develop a solution yourself, be mindful of the following.

  1. User research and data analytics to drive each of your requirements for the platform
  2. Ensure your platform works just as efficiently independently as it does when connected to others
  3. Your platform should allow you to iterate easily, and evolve when your business needs do so

Talk to us

If we can support you with Business Analysis or you’d simply like to learn more, please feel free to talk to us.

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