User research (UR) is an essential part of the Digital Transformation of Planning, aiming to provide a solid, robust and reliable foundation based on a clear understanding of its users’ issues and experiences.
The planning system is used by many different user groups and understanding their needs and how to deliver on them can’t happen in isolation from those different groups. It is essential that our approach is collaborative, making the best use of different skills and perspectives to understand the problems experienced and create the most effective solutions.
To date we have spoken to over 1000 participants in a series of workshops, interviews, design validation sessions and an extensive citizen survey.
Participants in the research have been drawn from the very broad spectrum of user groups across the planning system in Scotland, with planning authority staff being central to the research. All authorities have had opportunities to take part in the research.
Over 850 citizens, nearly 150 planning authority staff and 70 Professionals have taken part in our user research to date.
The primary focus of user research is the identification of issues experienced by users of a system in order that they might be addressed. However, our user research also highlighted many positive aspects of the planning system that users felt were working well.
The rest of the findings from the initial user research phases focused on issues and opportunities. These insights were analysed from all the different user groups involved and led to the development of eight main themes:
The insights captured from the first phase were used to inform the creation of a suite of prototypes, designed to illustrate the ‘art of the possible’ in a planning system of the future.
Our user research themes, and the findings of our horizon scanning research were used as the basis of a series of ‘How might we…’ challenges. These challenges then helped frame some of the main issues identified, and explore potential design solutions from which the prototypes were created.
These prototypes were iterated and improved internally and then evaluated to see if they had succeeded in their goal of illustrating the ‘art of the possible’.
We captured feedback on these prototypes from representative users, including householder applicants, architects, planning officers, major developers and strategic planners in a series of structured walkthroughs. The aims were to validate our thinking and further our understanding of user goals and requirements.
These sessions were very successful, capturing lots of very rich feedback, including:
Some of the prototypes were iterated further on this feedback. All the feedback captured during these sessions, as with all the user research, will be used as the starting point for the further research required in delivery.
You can find more information on the individual prototypes on the following pages:
You’ll also find more information on how we’ll be taking forward work to deliver new systems and ways of working in Scotland's Digital Strategy for Planning.
Our third phase of research was directed at exploring the innovation and transformation opportunities in spatial planning. This was undertaken to ensure our user research and prototypes covered the entirety of the planning system and process.
We conducted a series of workshops involving nearly 50 participants including academics, planners from within the Scottish Government, planning authorities and RTPI young planners.
These workshops explored the future landscape (five to 10 years), constraints and many different scenarios in spatial planning. These were also informed by the changes to development planning introduced in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.
The data and insights generated were very rich, ranging from an in-depth exploration of opportunities, possible solutions, a detailed exploration of the context of planning, and the technology available to support the transformation.
This feedback was then used to refine some of the earlier development planning prototypes, and to drive the creation of a new, more extended illustration of the ‘art of the possible’ in spatial planning.
As with earlier prototypes we created, the main Producing Plans prototype was validated via a series of structured walkthroughs with planning authority planners.
Feedback was again very positive, with four of the five participants stating that the prototype illustrated a planning system of the future ‘very effectively’.
24th March 2021
15th December 2020
15th December 2020
Last Updated: 30 Mar 2021