S8080 has worked for many years with the Welsh Government on websites such as Business Wales, Big Ideas Wales, and Food and Drink Wales. With such a diverse portfolio, Welsh Government wanted to create synergy between their main gov.wales site and their various departmental and campaign sites.
Modelled on the approach taken by the BBC to achieve consistency across their range of sites, the Welsh Government have created their own Global Experience Language (GEL). This visual framework is a set of rules for user interface elements which create an effective digital brand, whilst adhering to user experience best practice. The visual quality of the elements give a professional yet approachable aesthetic and allow for enough flexibility to be branded with the identity of a particular sector or campaign. This consistency helps the user immediately identify official Welsh Government websites and the familiarity of the user interface components assist in the usability.
The GEL is a visual framework as opposed to a technical framework, for it to be flexible enough to be implemented into existing sites with specific UX requirements and across multiple technologies. To achieve a consistent set of styles for GEL elements, S8080 has created a master GEL theme before implementing this across the suite of Welsh Government sites we manage.
When applying the GEL framework to existing sites, we had to create the right balance between existing branding and implementing the new visual framework. Sites such as Big Ideas Wales already had strong existing brand assets so the challenge at the visual design stage was to retain the personality of the existing branding and provide the best possible user experience whilst implementing the new framework.
Following the results of an extensive usability review of how its users were using the existing Business Wales site, S8080 was able to help prioritise the users top tasks, assisting in re-structuring and sensibly grouping content. The approach of focussing on the top tasks was a key consideration when producing wireframes for the new site.
In terms of implementing the GEL into the current Business Wales site, it was critical that we undertook a content mapping exercise to assess the existing content and how it would align with the new framework. By creating several templates that were flexible enough to hold existing content types whilst improving the user experience, the transition to the new framework was seamless.
Optimised mobile functionality was an essential part of the roll-out of the updated framework.
Initially, the GEL was implemented into the main Business Wales site, before being rolled out to Business Wales various business support zones and then stand-alone sites such as Business Wales - Accelerated Growth Programme, Farming Connect and Enterprise Zones.
S8080 worked closely with the Welsh Government’s internal web team to ensure compliance with the framework and keep consistency with existing GEL sites.
The framework continues to develop and adapt. S8080 is proud to be playing a part in developing a coherent digital strategy being delivered at a national level, enhancing the user’s digital journey by delivering a consistent user experience.