Case Study: Scottish Accessible Information Forum

The design and development of the new Scottish Accessible Information Forum (SAIF) website has been completed and is now live

SAIF website screenshot
Considerable discussion and thought went into creating the new SAIF website to ensure that it represents a substantial improvement over the old site. The organisation of site content was greatly simplified: all of the text has been revised and the site makes greater use of social media for the sharing of site content.

For example, Twitter is used as the main way to publish SAIF news, social sharing buttons have been added to top of each page and each page incorporates a Facebook ‘Like’ button. ‘Like’ buttons allow people to share content from the SAIF website via their own Facebook profile pages.

Revised and reviewed content

The publications section in particular was ‘pruned’ to omit any old or out of date publications and the navigation was re-organised to ensure quicker access to key documents. Custom icons were designed for Microsoft Word, PDF and HTML page versions of each document.

SAIF logo

Subtle redesign of the SAIF Logo

Although it is not obvious when looking at the website that the SAIF logo has been updated; when viewed next to the old logo it is clear that the slightly lighter colours give the overall design a fresher lighter feel; the darker colours on the old logo were (it could be argued) leaning toward the ‘staid’ end of the spectrum.

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On the technical side of things:

  • All of the web HTML for pages was hand-coded to ensure clean standards based markup.
  • Structured micro data (as outlined by and supported by Google) was used to markup the address on the contacts page; which in effect means that Google now understands these words constitute an actual physical address; rather than just being some more words on the page.
  • The site was designed with the notion of ‘responsive design’ principles in mind to ensure that it displays well across different platforms, e.g. tables, smart phones and desktops.

Online training learning environment updated

In addition to the main site, the SAIF online training virtual learning environment was updated – including adding a single sign-on for existing courses and re-design of the look and feel to make it consistent with the rest of the site. Enhancements were made to the registration process along with other tweaks to forms and interactive elements.

WordPress for content management

The new SAIF website was developed using WordPress, which is now the world’s most popular content management system. Several WordPress plugins were used to help with accessibility, security, daily backups, to increase the speed of the site and to help with site management.

The downside to using plugins is that they don’t always generate valid code; which unfortunately can lead to the site failing HTML validation tests (which are part of the Worldwide Web Consortiums website Content Accessibility Guidelines) however on the whole, this was not the case and I was able to find suitable plugins that had minimal validation issues. There are still some validation issues but they do not have an impact on the accessibility of the website for visitors.

Mailing list Integration

To help SAIF build its list of contacts the site has been integrated with the online mailing list service provided by Mailchimp.

Accessibility and usability

Taking into account the Equalities Act, BS 8878 and WCAG, the website has been designed to be accessible to the widest possible audience.

With on-going input from the management committee and project worker Mairi – the new site presents a comprehensive visual redesign, including subtle updates to the logo and branding, with the aim of producing an easier to use accessible website. I hope you like it.

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Or phone to talk over your ideas: 07810 098 119.

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