Back last year, we told you about WhatDoTheyKnow’s fancy new redesign, as part of our rolling process of design improvements.
WhatDoTheyKnow is powered by Alaveteli, the freedom of information software that also underlies 25 other FOI request platforms around the world. A great benefit of this global usage is that when we make improvements to one site, we can make them available for everyone else, too.
So, using what we developed and learned from the WhatDoTheyKnow redesign, we added the updated look and feel to the latest version of Alaveteli.
AsktheEU.org is an Alaveteli instance, run by Access Info Europe, which allows citizens to request information from the European Union. So if you need to escalate your request to an EU body and your country’s part of the EU, you should give AsktheEU.org a go.
A major improvement is that the site is now mobile responsive – so viewing it using a handheld device is ‘a total breath of fresh air’ (to use the words of mySociety designer Zarino!).The site was originally built with the assumption that most users would be on their desktop machines — which was true when it first launched, but certainly isn’t any more. Mobile users make up about 50% of the traffic these days, so this will make it much easier for them.
These changes also mean that users with visual impairments (or simply those who prefer bigger text on their web pages) can zoom in using their browser’s zoom controls, and use the new site perfectly comfortably, with no degradation in experience.
Lighter, faster pages
The new site is now much quicker to load, which should help those on poor connections or mobile devices.The designers achieved this by cutting down the number of files in the pages’ styling.
Space to breathe
The new request pages are now also more modern looking, with increased white space and improved contrast and type hierarchy, which should make them easier to quickly scan and find what you’re looking for.
The base font size has also been increased, making text, especially on the Help and About pages, much easier to read. And links now have underlines, to better distinguish them for users with trouble seeing changes in colour.
Well done to the Access Info and mySociety teams for making these improvements!
We’re hoping that, all together, they will make the site more accessible and therefore attract more visitors, so we’ll be keeping an eye on the impact of the new design and will report back.
There’s a secret message here for anyone running an Alaveteli site: if you’d like your site to benefit from all the improvements above, upgrade to Alaveteli 0.23. There are also loads of other benefits to upgrading, which you can check out here.
Please do get in touch if you’d like our support to upgrade, we’re here to help!