Case Study: Agile Software Delivery


Electoral Commission Logo

Services
User Experience (UX)
Agile Development

Technologies
.NET
SQL Server
Elastic Search
Bootstrap

Sector
Government
Regulatory

Triad refreshed the Electoral Commission’s registers search site, to improve its usability and increase its use by members of the public, by conducting user research, prototyping and implementing a responsive design.


Background

The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament to regulate party and election finance and to set standards for well-run elections. As part of its objective to ensure transparency in party and election finance, it regularly publishes financial information on its website, such as donations and loans to political organisations, their spending in elections and referendums and the annual accounts of political parties.

The website where this information is published was originally developed by Triad in 2010. In order to refresh this website and take advantage of the latest web technology, the Commission asked Triad to redesign and redevelop the website in time for the 2015 General Election.

Discovery: Understanding the needs of users

We started out by interviewing users from the main political parties, political journalists and the Commission’s own staff, to identify the different groups of users. Although the Commission’s main website is targeted at five groups of users: Voters; Electoral administrators; Candidates or agents; Parties or campaigners; and Journalists, we found that the users of our website broke down into two distinct groups: The Expert Analyst and The Information Hunter. The Expert Analyst group use the site on a regular basis and are interested in extracting detailed information, whereas The Information Hunter group only use the site occasionally to browse high-level summary information.

Alpha: Translating users’ needs into a UX design

We then designed the new website to match the needs of the two groups of users. We divided the information available on the website into 3 areas: Donations & Loans; Spending; and Registration & Accounts, and included shortcuts to the most commonly used searches. This satisfied the needs of The Information Hunter.

For The Expert Analyst we added two basic search filters and a keyword search box to give an initial set of search results. More detailed filtering and sorting options then become available to enable further analysis of the search results to be performed.

The UX design was tested with users from the two groups using an Axure interactive wireframe prototype and refinements were made to address the feedback that was received, until a final version of the prototype was agreed. A comprehensive set of over 100 user stories was then created to form the product backlog, which was prioritised using the JIRA Agile project management tool.

Beta: Agile development with fixed time and budget

The user stories were developed and tested in a series of two week sprints by a four strong, cross functional, agile team. The output from each sprint was reviewed with the Commission and then deployed to their staging environment for wider user testing.

A mixture of open source and proprietary technology was used for development. The beta version of the website, which was made available to the public at the end of March 2015, will run in parallel with the original website until after the General Election.

Outcome

The main benefits the new website provides the Commission with are: a more intuitive design; improved performance; support for mobile devices; and social media friendly URLs.

"“The new site was launched on time on 30th March. Since then it has received a lot of very positive feedback, but a better testament to its success is that it is proving to be far more popular than its predecessor. This is without doubt an excellent website and something the Commission can be proud of.” Andrew Cook, Senior IT Officer (Systems), The Electoral Commission"