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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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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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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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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From service designer to user researcher

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I started my career at Scottish Enterprise as a content designer. Actually, we were called ‘web content developers’ back then, before we really embraced the idea that there is more to content than just words on a web page. Then I joined the service design team as a service designer, and over the past few months, I’ve been doing a dual role as a service designer and user researcher.  

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How we made it easier for businesses to find coronavirus funding

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The problem

The FindBusinessSupport.gov.scot (FBS) website had to adapt quickly when the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hit to ensure that businesses could access up-to-date information about what they needed to do and what support they could get.

Because new funds were constantly being offered, and guidance kept changing as we moved in and out of lockdown, we just added new content when changes were announced by the Scottish Government. We never had time to step back and think about the complete customer journey, and the coronavirus advice page had become very long and complex.

The challenge

The Scottish Government asked us to make it easier for businesses to access information about coronavirus funding and support on the FBS website, and they gave us two weeks to do it.

screenshots of heat maps for the desktop and mobile version of the coronavirus advice page
Heat maps are one of the tools we use to research how people use our website
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How to be a designer, teacher and parent at the same time

Reading Time: 3 minutes
A woman wearing a black dress with a white collar and burgundy tights sitting on a green and blue tartan carpet. She is leaning against a wall and has a laptop on her lap. She is also wearing a headset.
Me working in the hallway while my husband works in the office and my kids run around the living room

The title of this post is misleading. It implies that I’m going to provide you with tips on doing all these things well simultaneously. I’m not. It isn’t possible. What I am going to do is share how I have been balancing my job as a service designer with homeschooling my 5-year-old and chasing after my 2-year-old during this most recent lockdown.

Like many parents, I’ve been faced with an almost impossible task – do your job while also giving your children an education. If your working day is seven hours, and a school day is six hours, and a parenting day is around 12 hours, that’s 25 hours of work to fit within 24 hours. And that doesn’t include eating, sleeping, cooking, housework and this ‘self-care’ stuff that everyone is so big on these days.

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Getting an economic development agency to act like a service provider

Reading Time: 3 minutes
screenshot of the header of the Scottish Enterprise website with the statement mentioned in the text below

What does Scottish Enterprise do?

According to our website, “Scottish Enterprise is Scotland’s national economic development agency. We’re committed to growing the Scottish economy for the benefit of all, helping create more quality jobs and a brighter future for every region.”

And how do we do that?

By providing services.

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Why you shouldn’t make assumptions about content

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We recently launched the new GlobalScot website, and I was scrolling through it when I noticed something odd. On some of the case studies and articles, the formatting was off. There were no spaces between paragraphs or styling on the sub-headers.

Article called 'New platform to support women-led start-ups' with no spaces in between the paragraphs

I had a chat with my content design colleague and one of our developers. Initially we thought there was a technical issue that was causing the content to display incorrectly, but then we found a few case studies without spacing issues. That’s when we realised it wasn’t a technical issue – it was a training one.

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