Scotland's Census

Developing a snapshot of the nation

The Challenge

National Records of Scotland (NRS) is a Non-Ministerial Department of the Scottish Government. It collects, preserves and produces information about Scotland's people and history, making it available to inform current and future generations.

NRS is responsible for Scotland's Census which takes place every 10 years. The information gathered helps build a picture of the country and is used to help inform important decisions made by the government and other service providers. The census was due to take place in 2021 but was pushed back to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Storm ID, working with NRS, was commissioned to develop the Scotland's Census website ahead of the 2022 count when, for the first time, it is anticipated most responses will be made online.

Storm ID's involvement follows its appointment as digital delivery partner to NRS.  

The Objectives

  • Powerful Search and Filtering

    The service would need to allow users to easily search and filter data from 2001 and 2011 census datasets. The feature would need to let users search by year, location or topic as well as compare data samples for similar topics from different years or locations using form inputs and maps. 
  • Informative Case Studies

    Case studies of how different organisations have used census data to inform their own work and design their own services would be required to help illustrate the value of the census datasets.
  • Digital First Service Standard Assessment

    The service would need to pass a Digital First Service Standard assessment, a rigorous appraisal undertaken by Scottish Government to ensure the service would meet the standards required of a digital public service. 

Key Features

Census Results Data Explorer

Users can explore detailed census data for a wide range of topics and locations from the 2001 and 2011 census. Form inputs and easy-to-use map-based presentation pull users through to data tables presented within the service via an integration with SuperWEB. 

Area Overviews

Users can search by postcode, town name or council area to view census data covering population, household, identity, health, education, labour and market. Up to 3 areas can be compared at the same time, providing rich statistical and chart-based data visualisations as well as contextually presented explanatory information.

Accessible Design and Testing

The service has been carefully considered to ensure ease of use and maximum accessibility. Considerable testing was undertaken with users who rely on assistive technologies  to access digital services.

Feedback for Continual Improvement

The service features feedback forms, providing users with a simple mechanism to share their level of satisfaction with the service. Insights from the feedback inform continual improvement. 

The Insight

The Scotland's Census website was launched first as a public beta to glean feedback from target service users ahead of live launch. In 2022, it is expected that most people will complete Scotland's Census 2022 online. NRS will post a code, called an internet access code, to most households and communal establishment residents. They will use these codes to access the census questionnaire online. 

The Outcome

Following a full end-to-end official Digital First Service Standard assessment, which was conducted completely remotely, the Scotland's Census digital service was launched in May 2021.


The Process

User Experience and Content Design

  • Understand user needs, definition of information architecture and content model.
  • Development of Storybook UI Component Library.
  • Integration of the user experience and user testing. 

Service Performance

  • Implementing analytics framework to measure digital service performance.

Testing and Handover

  • Functional and non-functional testing.
  • Service training and set up.

Operating Model Design

  • Process mapping.
  • Establish 'To Be' operating model.
  • Skills assessment with training and recruitment plan to fill gaps.

Get in Touch

If you're ready to transform your digital services, get in touch and we can discuss your requirements.