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Online for new design

While most members say the CSP website is clear and easy to use, the team running the service are not resting on their laurels

The CSP website is about to take another step forward in improving members’ access to information.

From the start of December, visitors will notice three significant changes to the site, all of which aim to make finding content easier than ever. The new structure has been designed specifically around the needs of users and will consist of pages with sharper, more up-to-date content, presented in a clear design.

The CSP’s online communications team are driving the changes in response to feedback from over 3,000 members in this year’s website survey, coupled with findings from a mix of independent web advisers and those running websites for similar organisations.

Rob Ledger, CSP head of online communications, explained: ‘We have a large site attracting more than 17,000 different visitors every week. Most of them find the site easy to use, but we know that some of them – typically less experienced web users – don’t always find what they want. These changes aim to simplify access to information and services for everyone, but particularly for those who don’t have either the confidence or the time to browse around.’

First, the site will have a new structure. At the very top level, there will be clearly labelled sections for each of the main types of visitor: members, the public, the press and policymakers. While each group will be free to browse around the different areas – apart from pages reserved for logged-in members – they will each have a highly visible route into content specifically targeted at their interests.

Second, almost every page on the site is being edited or re-written to bring it up to date, and to make it easier to read. With introductory summaries, clear headings and more emphasis on plain English, the site’s language should be more effective at leading readers to appropriate content.

The final, and most visible, change will be an updated page design. The site’s existing look has proved popular in user surveys, but for some it has seemed a little cramped.

‘Without wanting to redesign the site from scratch at this point in its lifecycle, the replacement design is a more open version of its predecessor,’ Mr Ledger said. ‘With a few more curves to soften up the blocks, and greater space between lines of text, the new look makes pages easier to read.’ The site will also make greater use of panels at the top of key pages highlighting latest additions or important topics, to signpost the visitor to the most popular areas.

‘We introduced a new search engine on the site this summer, using technology from market leaders Google,’ Mr Ledger continued. ‘This has offered a much better experience to the 50 per cent of web users who prefer to search rather than browse a site. For those who prefer to click through menus, the upcoming changes should be a similar improvement.’

The CSP site is not the only one to be making life easier. The member networking and knowledge-sharing site interactiveCSP – – has also recently been updated. Changes include simpler tools for finding and adding content. See the ‘Ten improvements to interactiveCSP’ link on the site home page


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15 October 2008

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