Design changes to the main site

It’s been almost three years since we rolled out the new look website, and time has flown. Needless to say, design trends, user expectations and visitor attitudes have changed dramatically over that time, not to mention the ever-increasing use of mobile and tablet devices to access the site.

We felt it was therefore time for a bit of a review of the site style, giving it a facelift and some much needed TLC.

In terms of mobile usability, we are already in a pretty good position. This years SOCITM Better Connected review praised the mobile usability, saying, “This is on of the best mobile experiences I’ve had on a council website so far.”

Nonetheless, we still felt that things could be improved further, with various little tweaks to make an even better mobile and tablet experience.

The word ‘tweak’ was important to our thinking. From the very start, we were looking at evolving the existing design, rather than coming up with anything radically different . Suddenly launching a new site style is never good for usability, with visitors having to learn the new design and risking confusion about whether they’re on the site they were expecting.

Rolling out ‘tweaks’ bit by bit would remove this risk and allow us to get feedback at each stage. It also meant we could get going straight away, getting some of the quicker changes out of the door before concentrating on some of the trickier changes.

The developments fall into two lists – edits to existing features and the creation of some new page layouts within the normal framework.

Edits to existing features

  • Adding more options to the Black Bar at the top of the site
  • Adding site navigation into the Black Bar
  • Moving search to Black Bar when viewed on mobile
  • Changing the accessibility link in the Black Bar to say ‘Accessibility’
  • Remove tabs from header
  • Increase size of search box
  • Reduce the height of header on mobile
  • Remove drop shadows
  • Remove padding at top of header on mobile
  • Make footer full width
  • Reduce content by linking to navigation pages
  • Remove gradients from various headers, buttons and other elements
  • Remove background colours from headers
  • Change the colour of links
  • Remove background body colour and shadows
  • Wrap email long addresses in Contact Details box
  • Improve accessibility of ‘accordions’
  • Hide navigation menu in mobile version

New pages

In addition to the tweaks, we’ll also be working on three new page layouts, which will take a little longer to develop and roll out:

  • Navigation pages – adopting a grid of icons and text rather than the long lists we currently have. Focus on the top tasks and content at the top, but still allow access to other relevant links further down the page.
  • ‘Hero’ header content page – a more visually striking content page, incorporating a large image at the top.
  • ‘Portal’ page – a cross between a homepage and a navigation page, used where service and content pages are closely tied together and a customer may need to visit a range of pages in one visit, for example Libraries or Waste & Recycling.

Updates

We’ll be posting details of what’s changed as we roll them out – normally one batch per week. We want to hear what you think of the changes each time we do this so we can adjust and refine.

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