Helping users navigate the debate

October 4, 2013

Future of the UK and Scotland logo

Hookson was commissioned by the Future of the UK and Scotland to build a Drupal website to support its new programme headed up by Charlie Jeffery, Professor of Politics at the University of Edinburgh. The Future of the UK and Scotland programme is funded by the Economic Social Research Council and seeks to bring the best of UK social science to the debate about Scotland’s constitutional future and its implications for the rest of the UK.

The website for the programme is the main “window” into the project for stakeholders and members of the public, informing the debate through comment and briefings. With the debate picking up pace in the media the site needs to keep up with all the latest developments. It is updated regularly with blog posts, events and news so there is a need to let the content come to the fore. Featured content is given prominence on the homepage but kept to a ‘letterbox’ format so other new content can be easily seen and browsed.

All news-based sites need to ensure users can access content wherever they are so we used a modular design approach to allow the site to fully adapt to mobile and tablet devices. The client was already familiar with using the Drupal content management system so requested this be the CMS used. As well as suiting client needs the CMS also supported our modular approach. Key content types could be broken down into blocks and used throughout the site, adapting to context and remaining flexible for different screen sizes.

Encouraging open discussion was of crucial importance to the site so user input had to be made as easy as possible. For comments on blog posts we chose the social commenting platform Disqus. This allows users to comment using their social network accounts as well as share specific threads and replies. Recent comments are also featured on the homepage to highlight responses to blog posts, with the hope that further discussions develop.

We are also working with the client to adapt elements of the site to changing requirements as the debate progresses. The site has already proven an important source of impartial news and opinion on the independence debate, something that will no doubt increase as the referendum date nears.

You can follow the latest discussions – and contribute to the debate – at www.futureukandscotland.ac.uk


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