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Digitally transforming the Highlands and Islands

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) was seeking a new agency to help refocus their digital services as part of a wider digital transformation programme. Our challenge was to help HIE deliver their Digital First, Customer First mandate. Our services spanned consultancy, user research and ultimately a new website. The new website and personalised digital services were to act almost as virtual account managers, allowing a higher degree of self service by their users and the general public.

Every step and output was audited by the OCIO within the Scottish Government against the 22 Digital First Service Standards.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Design Web & App development.
HIE devices

The best projects start with solid market and user research. We began by analysing existing research and data before facilitating stakeholder workshops, creating exit surveys on the existing website and running user research interviews working with our friends Taylor Mackenzie.

It’s all about the user

True service design must focus on customer needs. This means our research, content, user journeys, visual design and overall user experience had to be completely user centred or 'customer first', something that’s often said but not often followed in digital projects but it's core to designing successful user-centric products and services.

HIE user journeys
HIE mobile

Working with the client team we devised and created MyHIE; an account based and personalised way to experience HIE’s content and services. You can view the new website at

The site and services are based on the Umbraco CMS, for which we are registered partners and our in-house engineers are certified. We chose Umbraco to empower HIE to have complete control over creating an almost infinite number of layouts. The component-based solution and architecture allowed HIE to select from a library of components and stack and order them however they wished.

Bright Signals led a robust and in-depth user research process that gave us key insights into our users' needs and motivations. As a result, we've been able to develop a user centred website that will help our clients quickly and easily find support services and resources that are relevant to them. The wireframing and design process has also led to a user friendly, flexible website which allows us to create new content, pages and site sections easily using their flexible framework within Umbraco and content block approach. As a partner, they are collaborative and supportive and care about creating a solution that's right for both us and our users.

Anna Allan, Head of Marketing, Highlands and Islands Enterprise