Using feedback to improve content for victims and witnesses

November 5, 2015 by No Comments | Category Digital Public Services,

This is a post by Angela Morrison, one of our content designers.

Feedback is an essential part of our content lifecycle on, especially when our users – such as victims of crime – are experiencing complex and often stressful life events and need the right help and support at the right time.

To help us make sure our new victims and witnesses content is meeting the needs of our users, we reached out to a community of subject matter experts from across the public and third sectors and asked for feedback.

Here are just a few examples of the comments we received, and how we’re using them to improve content for victims and witnesses on

Plain English

You said

We should consider ways to make the content more accessible to people who may have difficulty reading and writing.

We did

Half of the UK working population have a reading age of 11-years-old or younger, so we use plain English as best practice so all audiences can understand our content, no matter what their literacy levels are.

We’re investigating ways we can continually improve how we write in plain English – this includes testing readability through ‘SMOG’ tests which calculate reading age based on sentence lengths and syllables.

Young people

You said

We should consider ways to make content more accessible to children and young people.

We did

In addition to investigating how we can improve how we write in plain English, we’re also developing content on ‘Support if you’re under 18 and a crime happens’ and ‘Help if you’re a young person at court’.

This will highlight specific services that help children and young people when they go through the justice process. We also plan to test this content in our usability sessions.

Vulnerable people

You said

We should consider ways to make content more accessible for vulnerable people.

We did

We already have content on how people classed as vulnerable witnesses can get support, but what if you don’t fall under this category?

We’re developing content on ‘Extra help to be a witness’ – this explains not only the use of special measures, but also the other ways you can get support if you’re feeling nervous about appearing at court and need someone to talk to.


You said

The use of contractions (don’t instead of do not, you’re instead of you are) may challenge readers who don’t have English as their first language.

We did

We adopted the use of contractions from the GDS Editorial Style Guide for consistency, and so far they haven’t encountered a problem with people understanding when testing with users.

However, for people who don’t speak English as their first language, this raises a valid point and is something we plan to investigate in more detail.

Victims of road crashes

You said

There’s content on claiming compensation for criminal injuries and support for victims of road crashes. We don’t have content on how victims of road crashes can claim compensation.

We did

We’re currently developing content on how victims of road crashes can claim compensation, so this gap in the user journey is joined up.

Next steps

Soon we’ll undertake usability sessions with staff from across the public and third sector who work closely with victims and witnesses on a day-to-day basis. This will help validate our understanding with real users, and see how people interact with the content in a live situation.

However, this doesn’t mean our feedback process has ended. We always want to hear what you think, so please continue to give us feedback – you can do this at the bottom of every page on

You can also leave us comments below, and follow the team via @mygovscot on Twitter.



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