Creating a better digital customer experience at West Sussex County Council

Like many local authorities, the content on West Sussex County Council’s website had traditionally been managed on a service-by-service basis by a subject matter expert within the operation. 

This meant the content and structure hadn’t been designed with the customer in mind. Information often used service-specific jargon, search functions weren’t optimised and there were over 7,000 web pages across the website, creating a disjointed online customer journey. As a result, customers were forced to phone or visit the County Council to find the information they needed or complete their task. 

Our solution

Action was taken to improve the digital experience. Our digital specialists improved the usability of the County Council’s website, enhancing online accessibility and customer support. This enabled the website to become a key customer channel and generate operational efficiencies. 

Our content designers reviewed and rationalised the content on the existing West Sussex website by 80% and significant improvements were made to quality, simplicity and consistency. 

Tools such as Google Analytics were used to analyse the number of customers accessing each web page. This data was used to complete a ‘Redundant, Outdated and Trivial’ (ROT) analysis to inform the rationalisation. 

Remaining pages were mapped against user needs. Duplicated content was deleted and, adopting the approach used by the Government Digital Service (GDS), remaining content was refined and rewritten into simple, jargon-free, consistent language that customers could easily understand. 

The content rationalisation process required a thorough consultation process with each service area. A new content policy was developed and implemented which adopted the following principle:

“Web content will be published only to meet a specific user need or if there is a policy, regulatory or statutory requirement evidencing our need to publish.”

This policy was formalised into a content criteria requirement used by our content designers and web editors to robustly challenge service content submitted for online publication. This has ensured web content is consistently written to a high quality standard.

This approach required new governance to ensure our content management experts had the necessary organisational support and authority to make content decisions in the best interests of customers. This has helped contribute to an organisational cultural shift focusing on the user need.

Impact

The number of pages on the WSCC website was reduced from 7,000 to just 1,400 pages. There is now greater content quality and consistency across the website. This has improved the customer experience significantly, with the site now receiving 17% more traffic since its re-launch.

Part of the wider digital transformation programme, the web rationalisation project has contributed to achieving a 14% decrease in calls to the contact centre in the first year, representing a potential £195,368 saving. A further 9% reduction was achieved in the second year representing a potential £57,451 saving.