As part of our on-going review of content on www.stockport.gov.uk we recently created a Nursery, Primary and Secondary Offer Day page for parents/carers.

We had previously updated the School Admissions web pages to make the process of applying for a school place more user focussed and to better meet user needs. But we also realised that there was a ‘gap’ in that there wasn’t enough information for parents and carers about what happens when they receive their child’s offer.

We thought that parents and carers would benefit from a page containing advice regarding the different ways they would find out about the offer and what happens next. So, working with the School Admissions team and the Contact Centre we set about to create this new area on the website.

Research – creating personas

As well as identifying a gap in information, we also created fictional ‘personas’ to better understand the needs of our users.

By creating personas, it’s then possible to identify the purpose of the page in meeting users’ needs.

Personas represent the needs of larger groups of users and help in identifying their expectations, personal characteristics and any potential barriers or ‘pain points’ they may come across when accessing information.

You can see an example of a persona we used at the top of this page:

Using the various personas, we worked with the School Admissions team and the Contact Centre on the new content and then created a mock-up of how it would look.

As part of our content principles and ‘Writing for Stockport.gov.uk’, when drafting the page we ensured that:

  • the content was concise yet informative
  • the presentation of the content was easy to follow and read
  • the page was accessible
  • the user would be able to access the information quickly

The new information provided parents and carers with what they needed to know now and what they needed to do next.

The layout:

The page was divided into three areas:

  • The offer day dates for 2016
  • How parents/carers find out about their child’s offer
  • What happens next

Although the page was created for the 2016 offer days, the decision was made to leave the year out of the title so that the page could then be reused year after year, by just making changes to the dates within the content.

The ‘offer dates’ are presented first as this is the information parents/carers need to read first so they know the date for when to expect their offer.

‘How I find out about my child’s offer?’ is presented next. This information is displayed in panels for accessibility with a brief summary for each method – reducing the amount of content the user has to read through.

Within the ‘Online’ panel, a green button call to action was used to link to the School Admissions Online login page to provide easier access.

‘What happens next?’ is the final set of information, which is displayed in panels with two options: ‘I have been offered my first choice’ and ‘I have not been offered my first choice’. It’s important that the titles get straight to the point and give the user a clear choice.

After the draft page was created:

The School Admissions team and the Contact Centre were asked for their feedback and made any text changes before giving parents/carers access to the page for final feedback.

We published the page in a Beta testing area with a ‘pop-up’ modal explaining that this was going to be a new area on the website and we would appreciate any parent/carer feedback to improve the page before it goes live.

When the user closed the ‘pop-up’ box, the page displayed an alert with an email address to send their feedback to.

The test page was also posted to our Facebook page for a period of 6 days including a weekend, allowing for a sufficient amount of time for the page to be viewed. Facebook is also our main social media platform for our audience.

We then made any final changes from the comments we received and published the page.

The feedback alert was kept on the published page just to allow for any more comments that may come through from now until the final offer day.

The ability to ask for feedback from parents/carers ensured that the final page we created was successful in achieving our initial aims set out when we drafted the page.

To view the Offer Day page, visit www.stockport.gov.uk/offerday

If you have any feedback or questions, email us at website.updates@stockport.co.uk