Local Government: A Project in Bradford
Completing a successful year, 6B was awarded a bid to work with Bradford Metropolitan Council on the design and development of a new, dynamically designed, bold, and highly engaging website to deliver their SEND Local Offer.
Aimed at helping families across Bradford access information and help that’s locally available to them and their children, Bradford Local Offer (LO) provides support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) ages 0 to 25 years of age.
Completed within 8 months, this project undeniably demonstrated our proficiency at working with a large public sector client, but it also illustrated a new approach to design – a new, more socially and accessibility-focused creative development.
As such, we’d like to take a look at our key skill developments that came from working with Bradford, and how this has adapted how we will continue to approach working on digital development for local government.
The Project’s Reach
The Bradford LO project ultimately aimed to vastly extend its reach across the entire metropolitan. With a fairly successful existing Council website, and plans to further develop their community services and image within the area, Bradford Council was focused on directing their range of support available to as many residents as possible.
Though familiar with working in local government, this proposed a slightly different variable for 6B – one that concerned reach and engagement, but not for the purpose of brand recognition or sales. Rather, Bradford aimed at simply broadening their community offering and completely focusing this effort on a demographic of people, often marginalised and difficult to reach.
For this reason, 6B had to accumulate all of our experience of strategic SEO and CRO, with the new challenge of reaching an audience not often the target of this kind of focus.
Implementing a rich research and discovery phase was therefore essential to our success. As part of this, we approached key stakeholders in order to submerge ourselves into the eyes of those involved in the project’s effort. This invaluable information from young people, parents/carers, providers and local residents was continually collected throughout the project’s duration, and was assimilated via a number of purpose-designed questionnaires.
We further invited stakeholders to a number of events, where we held Q&A sessions to ensure our proposed approach was aligned with their feedback, liaising with the Parent/Carer forum
throughout to act as a second form of voice.
Accessibility in Design
Parallel to the solution’s reach, it was unequivocally important that the site was as accessible as possible. This seemed intuitive given the site’s connection to local government, and is a ‘no brainer’ when it comes to government digital design. However, this is made a little less simple given that it was important that those who are affected with SEND also had to be able to have full access to the information and services with ease.
6B decided that to make the site as user-friendly and intuitive as possible, we would have to weave accessibility and digital sign-posting into our design. A digital design that combined common digital accessibility tools, with bold and dynamic designs that equally lead the user through the pages, and reduced time and effort spent looking for certain attributes.
To achieve this, 6B developed a dynamic navigation and search functionality – the result is an intuitive, accurate search process, significantly enhancing user experience.
We also developed a portal management tool, enabling external service providers to manage their content through a secure website login. The result is a substantially more user-friendly tool, which has seen a significant uptake in the number of service providers using the website.
Images and graphics had to be legible on all devices – for example, large photos and complex graphics are not mobile-friendly, which will be taken into account during the design phase. We utilised icons and clear colour-coordinated services to signpost users to relevant information.
Lastly, the website was integrated with Browsealoud, Recite Me and translation software, as necessary. Testing was undertaken using SiteImprove assistive technologies, whilst also undertaking a range of other accessibility tests – checking that all text responds to colour changes, for example.
The Future of Development
This project largely demonstrated 6B’s proficiency at delivering successful customer-facing governmental projects. Though we face, as with any project, challenges and new heights, our team was able to transfer a huge amount of tangible skills learnt from other work within the sector, to a project large in scale and complexity. Our conversations with the stakeholders involved in Bradford’s LO have surely adjusted the perspective that both our design team and development team have of digital design.
As a digital agency, remaining smart and adaptive is what keeps us competitive, and our team’s fresh take on, and appreciation for, the power of well-designed digital solutions surely propelled us during the course of the Bradford project. Offering excellent services, seminars, workshops, and tools, Bradford’s extensive range of offers for those affected with SEND is life-changing for the residents – and the 6B team are ecstatic to have been a part of the effort to get that message out there.
Need a Solution?
6B is a creative consultancy, specialising in the delivery of effective digital solutions. We specialise in complex websites and content management systems (CMS), apps, customer relationship management platforms (CRM) and integrations, and will work with you to ensure your solution is optimised and cost-effective.