The Scottish Parliament is updating its website to make it even easier for people to engage with the Parliament and learn more about its work.
The redevelopment will make it easier for web users to find out what’s on at Holyrood and discover how they can take part. It will be quicker for users to identify their MSPs and in future the website is expected to provide touch-of-a-button links to MSPs' parliamentary activity – such as latest speeches, parliamentary questions, upcoming debates or committee work.
The latest software technology will be used to make the site more user-friendly and easier to navigate and create a new content-management system. The current search facility will be replaced with a more powerful tool which will help users find specific information more quickly by improving the relevancy of searches.
Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said: “The Scottish Parliament has always endeavoured to be as accountable to the people of Scotland as possible through easily accessible provision of information about our work, policies and public expenditure. In this, our 10th year, it is right and proper to upgrade this facility.
"Our new website will take account of latest technology to increase use of our site not only as an information source on members, the Parliament and its work but also as a more proactive engagement channel for current and new audiences, including disabled users and people for whom English is a second language.”
With an updated design and navigation function, users can expect the new website to have improved functionality to make it easier – and faster – to search for information relating to every area of the Parliament’s work.
As well as improving the site’s usability, a core component of this upgrade will be improving accessibility standards across the site for all potential users to ensure equal opportunity to access information and engage with the Parliament.
Some improvements are as a result of the Parliament’s ongoing disability-equality work and are aimed at ensuring access is available to disabled users. These include the addition of British Sign Language (BSL) videos in Flash format to assist deaf users and improved readability across the site for screen readers used by blind and partially sighted people.
Other improvements such as more podcasts and audio downloads in a range of languages to assist people for whom English is their second language are also being considered.
The upgrade will include the latest technology to help the Parliament manage its web content more easily. This function will allow the Parliament to facilitate ongoing developments to ensure the site continues to meet changing user-requirements for years to come.
The Parliament has signed a five-year deal with Redweb, a leading UK digital agency for the re-design, usability and ongoing development, support and maintenance of the Parliament website and intranet (known as SPEIR).
The upgrade, which will cost the Parliament a maximum of £800,000 over the next five years, is due to be launched in September 2010.