The Challenge

The Electoral Commission undertakes work that supports the democratic system in the UK. They are independent body set up by the UK Parliament that works to support a healthy democracy, where elections and referendums are based on principles of trust, participation, and no undue influence. They regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections.

Digitally, the Electoral Commission are represented by 2 websites:

  1. Electoral Commission: The source of information for everything to do with running, standing for, campaigning or voting at elections in the UK.
  2. ‘About My Vote’: The hub for the public to find everything they need to know about taking part in elections.

The demographic of users for both the Electoral Commission’s websites range greatly. Importance is placed on making information as accessible as possible, with a core focus for both sites on making sure that the right information is returned after the first search query. This approach reduces the need for human interaction and provides an excellent user experience.

Squiz had worked with the Electoral Commission previously, and in 2008 partnered to deliver their corporate site. Prior to this date, the Electoral Commission had noticed their users changing: gone were the demands for print based collateral and people were turning to digital resources to access the information they required.

For them, business transformation meant adopting a user-centric approach to everything they did. We worked with the in-house team to start their journey to becoming digital by default, providing all of their resources digitally in the first instance.

This was achieved successfully and the Electoral Commission site served its purpose of delivering clear information, even with heavy traffic numbers around election periods.

As the Commission continued to grow, their users continued to change. Digitalisation across all industry verticals meant users compare experiences online with a range of different sites, not those just involved with government. These tech-savvy users expect more than ever before and the Electoral Commission wanted to keep on serving users now, but also adapting in to the future.

Squiz were tasked with making improvements to the Electoral Commission site, whilst developing an all-new ‘About My Vote’ page in line with the current offering.

The Solution

The Electoral Commission undertook a lot of stakeholder engagement to outline where both sites needed to improve in order to meet changing demand. Though the main website served its purpose effectively, content was searchable and the user journey was clear, the ‘About My Vote’ did not deliver the same quality that was expected from the brand. ‘About My Vote’, having been built by a different organisation simply didn’t possess the same functionality as the main site.

Because of this, there were internal headaches in implementing changes and uploading content. Two separate workflow processes made making changes to each site a cumbersome task.

To remedy this, Squiz and the Electoral Commission worked together under a Waterfall methodology to develop the ‘About My Vote’ site from scratch. Doing so brought the new site inline with what Squiz had already done on Commissions main website. Due to our on-going partnership, this work could be covered under one Squiz Matrix instance. The benefit of doing this guaranteed uptime, security and support to the same high standards of the main site. Similarly, ‘About My Vote’ was created to follow the Electoral Commission’s brand guidelines, ensuring there was a seamless transition when interacting between the two sites.

Using Squiz Matrix and Funnelback Search enabled ‘About My Vote’ to provide a greater degree of personalisation. Members of the public could use a feature called ‘Postcode Lookup’, which integrated geo-location technology to supply localised information on voting. This integration shortened the user journey from query to answer and made it simpler for users to see content that was relevant to them.

As pages are increasingly personalised, it became easier for the Electoral Commission to publish more information relevant to the users. User testing showed that people were finding the information they were looking for easier and faster than before.

The changes to modernise the face of the Commission’s digital presence resulted in an easy to use, responsive platform for users to find resources. Having been built on Squiz Edge, it means that the varying levels of traffic visiting the sites throughout the year were served with the same quick response time that is expected from all Squiz websites.

This was made evident during the 2015 general election when the Electoral Commission partnered with Facebook at short notice. The ‘I’m a Voter’ button was shared 3 million times, resulting in an increase of 500,000 visits direct from Facebook. Squiz Edge architecture handled the rise in traffic with no issues.

Having taken all their stakeholder feedback on board, the Commission better understood what users wanted from a website. This not only enables them to produce user journeys to match the demand but allowed for processes internally to be streamlined in order to serve users. Further transforming their whole business, rather than just the website.

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