Service landscape maps: seeing the bigger picture

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is a service landscape map.

Service landscape maps depict the different stages users go through when accessing a service as connected blobs, with the activities they do as circles within those blobs. It also captures who the external users are – the end users of the service and those who act in their support – the things users do to achieve their goals, the teams of people who deliver the service and are granted some power or authority within the system, and supporting organisations that also have a role to play in meeting user needs.
Service landscape maps depict the different stages users go through when accessing a service as connected blobs, with the activities they do as circles within those blobs. It also captures who the external users are – the end users of the service and those who act in their support – the things users do to achieve their goals, the teams of people who deliver the service and are granted some power or authority within the system, and supporting organisations that also have a role to play in meeting user needs.

Services rarely, if ever, exist in a void. They exist within a context. A landscape.

Service landscape maps capture and illustrate that wider context and allow us to see the complexity at play, and to develop a better understanding of the user’s whole experience.

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How are businesses thinking about business purpose in a changing world?

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Introduction

I wanted to find out if, and to what extent, Scottish businesses are purpose led. As part of this process we wanted to explore businesses’ attitudes and actions towards Net Zero and Fair work initiatives

As a user researcher working at Scottish Enterprise, I joined with my colleagues in strategy to explore this in more depth and to provide insight to help shape the organisation’s approach going forward

Working with the strategy team was a really positive and enjoyable experience. We worked very closely together to clarify the objectives and desired outcomes of the project and the strategy team were involved at every stage.

Companies and consumers both have a part to play to create more sustainable economies which help people to flourish.

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10 things that staff consistently tell us

Reading Time: 4 minutes
  • When we do user research with businesses about our Services, we also talk to our staff that are delivering them.
  • Just like customers, we often hear the same things from staff, over and over again, regardless of which design, platform or web page we’re testing.
  • These issues are not aimed upwards at management, but represent the lived reality of everyone in the organisation, and are there for all of us to fix

Here is what they tell us:

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Measuring our carbon output

Screenshot of our website carbon calculator
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The carbon costs of “digital” are not well understood.

How many emails have you received with “Consider the environment before printing this email” in the signature?

How many have you received with “Consider the environment before hitting Reply All to 26 random people” and adding “Thanks”?

For many people, “virtual” means “not real”.

As in, almost literally, non-existent.

Terms like “cloud” don’t help.

The reality is, the internet is the biggest machine humanity has ever built. It circles the entire planet.

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The places and people we remember

Reading Time: 5 minutes

What do we take from those we have worked for, and with? What do we take from each role we do into the next?

I’ve blogged before about my career journey. The best of times has been when I’ve worked for someone who has understood me as a whole person and believed in me. Here’s some thoughts about my journey over 35 years

An image of my tricolour border collie called Angus lying in some bluebells
My whole me now includes Angus. Here he is in the bluebells
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On alternatives

Reading Time: < 1 minute

This is for everyone

Tim Berners-Lee

As a content author myself – I am, actually writing this, with fingers – I know it can be hard to choose how to provide alternative text for non-text content.

Do you go full-on and launch into a full description of the image? Or is just a brief alt=”cat” sufficient?

Delicate white blossoms against blue sky.
Tree blossom

So, how would you choose to describe this image to someone who can’t see it?

I gave it a <caption>Tree blossom</caption>, and alt=”Delicate white tree blossom against a clear blue Spring sky”.

Is that perfect? Probably not.

I don’t pretend to understand the lived experience of people whose experience is not like mine.

Then I stumbled across this article on the w3c website.

And I thought, “this looks handy“.

And it is.

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The exporting experience: one year on

Reading Time: 5 minutes

At the end of March this year, my colleague Katie wrote a post about some work she had been involved with to improve the exporting user journey on scottish-enterprise.com.

She included some analytics data that seemed to indicate some significant improvements. But she only had 3 months’ worth of data, which makes it hard to draw any firm conclusions.

So we thought now, with a year’s worth of data, would be a good time to look back on what’s changed, what worked, and any opportunities for further improvement.

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How to create accessible Word documents

Reading Time: 7 minutes

First, some definitions

An accessible document is a document that people with a range of physical and cognitive impairments can read and understand.

An accessible document is, typically, also a document that people with no physical or cognitive impairments can read and understand better, and faster.

Also typically, an accessible document is easier for content authors to maintain. Because it uses tools that are baked in to Word and other MS Office applications to support accessibility and improve workflow.

So, here are some tips on creating accessible Word documents.

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How we are improving the application process for customers with accessibility requirements

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Introduction 

As an organisation we are  committed to do more testing with people with accessibility needs. This will ensure that our services can be easily accessed by everyone and to meet our legal obligations as a public sector organisation. We aim to recruit participants with accessibility needs in every round of research that we do to ensure that accessibility is considered at every stage of the project. 

We tested extensively the prototype for the Green jobs grant which was launched in the summer of 2021. 

Our goals  

We had a number of aims for this research:

  • To test the application journey with users who have a range of accessibility needs and to find what the challenges were for them in our journey  
  • To get clarity on what areas worked well  
  • We wanted to discover if different needs give conflicting priorities  
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Writing for people, not businesses

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As an enterprise agency, our role is to support economic development, and this includes offering support and information to businesses in Scotland. This sometimes results in the misconception that our users are simply ‘businesses’.

But that’s not strictly the case. Even though our services are aimed at businesses, it’s still individual people that read our content, navigate application forms or contact our experts. They could be business owners, CEOs, accountants, finance directors, department heads, or any other individual within an organisation. And, being real people, there are a whole range of different needs and situations we need to consider when writing for them.

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The silver bullet

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Anyone who’s worked on iterative design projects – sometimes called ‘agile’ projects, although that term itself often hinders understanding, rather than helping it – will know that reflection is a key part of the journey. We’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately, and it’s prompted me to reflect on what digital transformation is – or perhaps more importantly, what it isn’t.

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10 things that businesses consistently tell us

Reading Time: 5 minutes

When we do user research with businesses, we often hear the same things over and over again, regardless of which design, platform or web page we’re testing.  

Here are a few things that our customers consistently tell us: 

1. Get to the point 

Business owners are time-poor. They don’t want to waste time reading through a lot of content. We need to get to the point quickly or we’ll lose them. 

They like clear, simple language and bullet points. They hate long paragraphs and jargon. 

When it comes to our digital services, we tend to focus a lot of how things work technically and what they look like – which are both important – but so much of the feedback we get from customers is about the words that we use. Words matter. We need to choose them carefully. 

Customer quotes 

  • “There are a lot of words there and my time is really precious.”  
  • “I don’t have the time to read the whole page.”  
  • “I’m dyslexic – that wall of words is off putting. I’d prefer to see it broken down a wee bit.” 
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Let’s green our web : part 2

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Last week I read a Twitter thread from Gerry McGovern. He’s a bit of a guru in designing digital experiences and is also passionate about the impact that ‘digital’ is having on the environment.


‘Organisation with 100 million visits a year finds that 5% of its content is getting over 80% of visits. Over 100,000 pages have not been reviewed in 10 years.
We produce content. We do not manage it. 90% of content is crap. It was like this 25 years ago. It’s still the same.’

The tweet from Gerry McGovern says that content on websites is not actively managed and in many cases not reviewed for years

It made me think about the Scottish Enterprise website and whether we saw the same statistics. So, I asked our product owner David what our customers were looking at.

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User experience begins long before someone reaches your website

Reading Time: 4 minutes

COVID-19. Collective sigh. If you’re not jaded by it all yet then your reserves of positivity surely know no bounds.

The winds of change that have blown across our world as a result of this surreal event are quite incredible. And many things will never be the same again.

Small town centres, previously peppered with empty shops, are bustling. Employers are embracing remote working like never before. Deserted city centre scenes, previously only featured in apocalyptic movies, have graced the evening news.

But some things haven’t changed.

Many organisations continue to create policy, advice, products and services in complete ignorance of how user behaviour in the modern age will define their effectiveness.

There’s been no more perfect example of this than the four corners of the UK all having different and, in many cases, contradictory rules and advice for citizens to follow during this pandemic.

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When users tell you that you’re focusing on the wrong thing – listen to them

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Part of me wonders if I should say this, but…I love it when user research goes wrong. 

Sometimes you go into user research with a hypothesis and the research validates it. That’s great. That’s easy. But what I really love is when you go in with a hypothesis and the research totally flips it on its head. That’s when you learn the most.  

I recently did some user research on a document that we’re using to support our new approach to helping companies. It outlines what their project is, what support Scottish Enterprise and our partners can offer them, and how we plan to measure outcomes. We went in wanting to know what companies thought about the format of the document and if there was anything about it that didn’t work for them. We hypothesized that: 

  • Some of the language wasn’t customer-focused enough, and people would be put off by it 
  • The second page of the document that lists the support that we offer would be the section that businesses would refer to the most 
  • They would prefer a digital version of the document over a paper version 
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Skills Development Scotland (SDS) sharing session – Design systems

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Earlier on in the year, myself, and Derek Hawthorne from SDS connected on LinkedIn about a mutual interest in an article about making the web a greener place. Through further conversation we discovered that we are both working on Design Systems.  

SDS are at the very early stage of creating a Design system while we are further on in our journey.  Derek reached out to see if we could share what we are doing, so we set up a sharing session. 

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How providing tech support helped me understand our customers better

Reading Time: 3 minutes
'Funding for green jobs' page on the Scottish Enterprise website

As part of the recent Green Jobs funding call, the project team asked if the service design team could help with level two system support. This meant helping with technical issues that customers were having if the enquiry team couldn’t resolve them. 

I didn’t want to do it at first. I’m not really that technical, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t know how to help. Even though our service adoption team gave us training and a knowledge bank that we could use, I still didn’t feel confident on my first shift. 

To my surprise, it was actually an interesting – and eye-opening – experience. Here’s what I learned: 

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How many people does it take to design and build a service?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Scottish Enterprise is changing. We are delivering services to customers and stakeholders in new ways, this gives us a fabulous opportunity but also presents some challenges.

As the team leader for the user centered design team at Scottish Enterprise I hear comments such as ‘What do you mean when you say service’, ‘We don’t really know what you do or who you are’ and also ‘But don’t you just build websites? Why do you care about all this other stuff that’s not digital?’

It prompted me to think what was causing this perception and how I felt four years ago when I joined the digital team at Scottish Enterprise. I was struck by how many people are involved and therefore how confusing it can be.

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What businesses think about Fair Work and Net Zero

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The way that we support businesses is changing. As part of these changes, we’re putting a bigger emphasis on ensuring that the companies that we support meet, or are working towards, Fair Work and Net Zero principles.  

What are Fair Work and Net Zero? 

Fair Work logo

Fair Work

Fair work is work that offers all individuals an effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect: 

  • Effective voice: employers create a safe environment where dialogue and challenges are dealt with constructively, and where employee views are sought out, listened to and can make a difference 
  • Opportunity: fair opportunity allows people to access and progress in work and employment 
  • Security: people have reasonable security and stability of employment, income and work 
  • Fulfilment: people have access to fulfilling work 
  • Respect: people are treated respectfully, whatever their role and status 

Businesses that commit to Fair Work must sign up to these principles: 

  • Appropriate channels for effective voice and employee engagement, such as trade union recognition 
  • Investment in workforce development 
  • Actions to tackle the gender pay gap and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace 
  • No inappropriate use of zero-hours contracts 
  • Paying the Real Living Wage (currently £9.50 in Scotland) 
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How we improved the exporting user journey on the Scottish Enterprise website

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We recently redesigned the exports and international markets section of the Scottish Enterprise website. 

Our goals

  • Raise awareness of our exporting expertise and support – in order to help more businesses, we needed them to be aware of what support they can access through us
  • Create content that is relevant and useful to exporters and potential exporters – we wanted to ensure that content on our website was meeting user needs
  • Get more enquiries for exporting services and events – we wanted to get more people asking us about the services and events that we offer
  • Help users self-serve – we wanted to help people self-serve where possible, or signpost them to other help and support, at the right point in the customer journey
  • Get more users taking advantage of market opportunities – we wanted to help businesses understand what opportunities exist in overseas markets and how they can access them
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