South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) is a metropolitan fire service covering the 4 unitary authorities of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield which have a combined population of 1.3 million. As a public service provider, SYFR is committed to maintaining a transparent approach and making data publicly available to the communities it serves. This philosophy was reflected in the most recent SYFR Strategic Plan, which set out an intention to make fire service data more accessible through the SYFR website.
At the same time, fire service budgets have been reduced significantly and all public sector organisations are being encouraged to make greater use of online channels to reduce costs, increase transparency and improve the user experience.
SYFR decided to address these challenges by commissioning a new website to support transparency objectives, improve online service delivery standards and reduce costs:
Clarity recognises that public authority websites must provide large amounts of information and be readily accessible to the widest possible user base, allowing site visitors to find the content and services they need quickly and easily regardless of their ability and/or browsing platform.
We meet these objectives by providing professional and inspired creative designs with a clean aesthetic appeal and a truly intuitive user experience.
We reflected this ethos in the SYFR website by providing a fluid and responsive design that:
Clarity also provided highly flexible page layout designs for the site, which allow SYFR to deliver targeted and highly topical messages that promote local fire safety initiatives (e.g. safe use of barbecues in the sunshine). In particular, the home page tiles can be changed easily to highlight pertinent issues and reference content throughout the site. This approach can also be used to give the site a fresh look and feel with minimal effort.
Clarity developed the new site using the WordPress open source cms platform and this has provided an exceptionally cost effective solution for SYFR, since WordPress is an open source product and it can be used free of charge without incurring any licence or maintenance fees. WordPress is also an exceptionally popular cms platform and it is currently used to manage 25% of all websites globally (see https://wordpress.com/).
Clarity also migrated the SYFR website and intranet from a legacy Open Text enterprise cms platform to the WordPress platform as part of this project.
SYFR must be able to maintain the website dynamically and WordPress supports this objective by providing an exceptionally intuitive user interface, which can be accessed from the office or remotely through a secure connection using smart phones and tablet devices. SYFR content editors use this interface to maintain the website easily at any time of day when new information needs to be published.
In recognising the clear and accessible user experience provided by the Clarity creative design, the SYFR website was shortlisted for an award as the best public sector website in the 2015 User Experience UK Awards.