History. Made.

A Project To Make History

Audience clusters
User needs
Annual page views

The Challenge

Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) integrated in October 2015 to form a new organisation, Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Such a massive undertaking demanded a new brand, mission and website that could handle the increased amount and range of customer needs, stimulate engagement across a complex user base, whilst also rationalising a legacy estate of websites and applications.

The Objectives

  • Establish HES as a leading expert in the historic environment

    Showcase the expertise, knowledge and experience within HES as the lead public body for the historic environment
  • Educate and inform users

    Provide valuable content and functions to educate a range of users and to cross-sell properties and collections
  • Provide a smooth and intuitive user experience

    Ensure a consistent user journey throughout the HES website
  • Establish unified digital technology approach

    Rationalise technology and legacy web estate

The Insight

Key to the success of this new service was the buy in from all project stakeholders around ensuring the website was designed around user intent and the wider narrative of the new organisation rather than reflecting internal departmental structures.

The website is designed to support user journeys across 36 separate audiences in meeting over 700 user needs.

To ensure the website could successfully achieve this, we engaged very regularly with representatives of all user types in co-design workshops, interviews and testing.


The Process


We undertook a detailed discovery process to thoroughly understand the customers and their user needs.


The Alpha stage was designed to create a proof of concept that could be tested with both real users and content with 3 initial areas.


The objective of this phase was to build a fully working end to end version of the new platform which represented all content and user journeys along with full functionality.


This final stage incorporated final user acceptance testing check lists and stakeholder reviews, the set-up of live hosting environments and the transfer to the live environment.

Key Features

Publications Database and API

A standalone Publications Database and API to allow the HES suite of sites to consume and render publications in a consistent way.

Scalable Infrastructure

A scalable hosting solution using Azure Cloud Services was implemented to handle the potential demand of the new HES online service. The platform responded and scaled automatically to meet high demand without manual intervention.

Events System and API

An Events Management System which allows HES sites to maintain and consume events listings and information.

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