Improving for businesses

January 23, 2017 by No Comments | Category Digital Public Services,

We’d like to explain some of the work we’ve been doing to try and improve for business users.

The aim of is to provide joined-up business sector user journeys across public services, based on user need.

Over the last 18 months, key business websites have been integrated into The business portal and finance hub were developed by Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies and covered hundreds of pages of business content.

With a large amount of business information now available on, we’re taking a step back.

This will allow us to:

  • think about who our users are
  • think about what’s in the business section and why
  • try out new ways of working with our stakeholders
  • think about the design of

This is important because we believe should be the place businesses in Scotland can go to find the right help and support.

Taking stock

The first step was a full audit of our business section.

This looked at:

  • Google Analytics and how each content item performed in the past 12 to 14 months
  • where content was duplicated
  • whether content was related to Scottish government or UK government policy

A big part of this was done in collaboration with colleagues from the Scottish Government policy team.

Having their expertise in the room enabled us to work quickly.

We mapped out which parts of content related to a Scottish government policy or service and which related to UK government policies or services (reserved).

The aim is to clean up our content by making the handover to GOV.UK clearer for users and removing duplication.

Finance and funding

We’ve been working with the Scottish Investment Bank to help businesses find information on finance and getting funding.

Businesses are struggling to find this information.

The Scottish Investment Bank felt this could be solved by creating a thing that could ‘pull information together’ for users. They described this as a diagnostic tool.

From an initial search demand exercise using Google data, it was clear the area of ‘financial readiness’ was driven largely around basic key terms such as ‘get funding’ and ‘money’.

The ‘financial readiness’ topics – those areas users may not be considering but are critical to the health of their business – did not feature. So how do you help users find the most useful information based on their user need?

This idea became our starting point.


We used some discovery techniques to think about:

  • who our users are
  • what their needs are

We held a workshop with representatives from:

  • the Scottish Investment Bank
  • Business Gateway
  • the Scottish Enterprise enquiries team
  • the Scottish Government’s policy team

Having the right people in the room proved really valuable. It helped us to build up a holistic view of our business users and what we think they need when it comes to the topic of finance and funding.

The key things we learned were:

  1. Most businesses ask about ‘funding’, ‘money’ or ‘grants’, rather than specific types of finance.
  2. Businesses often think they’re further ahead in their life journey than they actually are.
  3. Businesses often have no clear idea about what they need money for or who they need money from
  4. Around 45% of start-ups don’t use Business Gateway because they don’t know it exists or they don’t trust government.

This led to our conclusion that businesses need to be able to access information without relying too much on:

  • perceptions of their own business’s size/success/stage
  • detailed knowledge about managing a business

Business rates and the EU referendum

We’ve also delivered work to:

  • update the business rates calculator and guidance
  • support businesses with the EU referendum result

The business rates calculator continues to be one of the most used features of

In our last delivery cycle we updated the calculator and supporting guidance in line with proposed changes to policies for 2017 to 2018.

This was the first time valuation rates for commercial properties had changed in 10 years and it was important businesses could calculate their business rates before any change was introduced in April.

We also created content about how the EU Referendum result could affect business activities in Scotland and what support is available.

This includes a form that captures any questions or concerns businesses might have – which are answered by the EU Referendum Support Service run by Scottish Enterprise. Not only is this to help businesses in Scotland deal with any uncertainty they face, it will also help shape future policy.

Both pieces of work were turned around quickly through  collaboration with colleagues in our policy teams.

User needs and the what we’re doing next

Using data on what’s already on has been really valuable in building a hypothesis of what we think is wrong and how we could fix it, while a lot of what we’ve done up until now has been to engage with subject matter experts and find out what they know about business users.

But we’re keeping in mind that our subject matter experts aren’t business users and we’re now looking forward to our next round of research with businesses to find out what they need.

What we’re doing next

We believe the work we did in our last delivery cycle will be really valuable in the next one, helping us to:

  • slim down the number of content items we have
  • start re-organising the business section
  • create new guidance for business looking for funding
  • start redesigning our user interface and user experience

A priority will be getting our work in front of business users to learn and iterate.

Part of this will be a card sorting exercise – to see how business users would organise the content on

Another priority will be continuing our collaboration with subject matter experts.

This will focus on paired writing sessions with colleagues from the Scottish Investment Bank as we look to create new guidance to help businesses find funding.

We’ll also start to create new content around innovation in business. This will look at how we help users with an idea for a product, service or business take the next step.

Get in touch

As is the single entry point for public services in Scotland, to ensure we’re all providing the most appropriate information for users, public sector organisations need to work together. When we work together we can create the simplest and most effective digital user journeys for citizens and businesses.

If you’re involved in creating digital content for your organisation and would like to join our content community of practice, join our knowledge hub group.

If you want to know more about our content processes, then please get in touch with us:

Keep up to date by keeping an eye on this blog and on Twitter.

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