In 2015 I worked as part of the Each&Other team to completely redesign the Oireachtas website. Our aim was to improve the customer-facing and back-end technologies and processes that serve the site, so it’s more streamlined, easier to manage, and more flexible.
- Position: UX research and design
- Team: 2
- Year: 2015 – 2016
- Tasks: User & stakeholder interviews, user & stakeholder testing, content audit, collaborative design workshops, wireframing, F&B creation, persona creation
- Status: The site has launched as beta.oireachtas.ie, with further improvements being rolled out.
With a dated website, half a dozen databases, and thousands of words of legacy content, the Irish Parliament’s (the Oireachtas) website is struggling to serve the needs of its internal and external users.
We started by interviewing and user-testing stakeholders (project sponsors), internal users (T.Ds, Senators, political staff, civil servants, Oireachtas staff), and external users (media, lobbyists, members of the public). These interviews were conducted with a core script but were open in nature. Each interview ended with the participant completing one of set number of tasks on the site.
We synthesised the combined needs of these interviewees into three primary and two served personas, which were then used as a guide for the redesign. This was the first time that the Oireachtas understood who, and how, their website was being used.
These interviews were supported by a full content audit, analytics assessment, site survey – which returned over 2,000 results – and design workshops (card sort, sketching, ideation).
We found that internal users’ needs were not being met by the current site. TDs and Senators had quite advanced needs, such as video and audio editing. Sitting members of parliament and civil servants required access to live and archive video from each of the chambers, and committees. And they needed this video across multiple devices. External users’ needs were more basic, yet they felt the site was confusing (and designed to be such). They required access to archive video, timely transcripts, and member data.
Media and some citizens requested access to Oireachtas APIs, to allow them to “keep an eye on what’s happening.”
As a key insights, we identified that all groups needed access to discrete pieces of information, rather than reams of data as currently presented on the site. To support this consumption behaviour, we designed customisable alerts, to allow both groups to keep up with current events without having to constantly revisit the site.
We redesigned the site to focus on streaming video, open APIs, live alerts, and an improved (customer focused) information architecture. Each of these features was wrapped in an advanced search-and-filter pattern, which allows users to access snippets of data.