https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2018/09/19/things-can-only-get-beta/

Things can only get beta

Screenshot of the how to submit an oral question online guide

We recently published a Guide to Procedure for MPs on the beta website. The product owner and the content designer explain how they created the guide and how the team worked together to build something that is now available for anyone to use.

Joanna Dodd, product owner

Eighteen months ago the MPs’ Guide to Procedure was just an idea. Now it’s a product that people can use.

The first piece of content was published on the beta website in May, as part of a soft launch intended to generate feedback. More content was added over the following months. Now, all the content is available, with the final section expected to be added this month.

The user feedback so far has been largely positive. Both MPs and their staff have said they would use the guide and recommend it to others.

The 'how to' guides have received particularly positive comments. These list numbered steps that need to be followed to do a practical task, such as submitting an Early Day Motion or an oral question.

PDS are now working on a way of pulling all the 'how to' guides together in one place, to make them as easy as possible to find.

The guide is already being used by four times as many people as similar procedural information on the intranet. Crucially, around 90% of those users seem to be finding what they need, rather than exiting the site.

John Newton, content designer

We always knew that producing a definitive Guide to Procedure for the House of Commons would be a massive challenge. Nothing with this much content had been published on the site before, so sometimes this meant building the road as we went.

The procedural information was dense and technical and there was lots of it. Sometimes we’d find complex bits of procedure had a unifying logic buried within them that we could coax out. Sometimes we’d find they didn’t.

The data modelling side was equally complicated.

But if we could balance the competing complexities of parliamentary procedure and parliamentary data, we knew we could produce a simple, and effective guide to help make Parliament easier to navigate.

This meant keeping our digital and procedural experts close. Luckily, Joanna was our procedural guru and was fantastic at explaining the nitty gritty of how the House of Commons works. She also threw herself in to understanding our data models and had a massive input in to how these shaped the guide.

Without this willingness to engage, it’s entirely possible cross-parliamentary working could have turned into talking at cross purposes.

The road to beta wasn’t always easy, but we hope that our work on the Guide to Procedure will mean a smoother ride for those who come after.

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1 comment

  1. Katrina Cimetta

    Would love to hear more about the data modelling!

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