Progress update: Delivering on our digital roadmap

Catherine Doyle - Digital Delivery Manager

Catherine and digital team at work

It’s been 8 months since we published our digital roadmap so it’s time for a progress update. We’re making significant strides in the right direction and already seeing great results, but there’s a lot left to do.

As we enter a crucial delivery phase, we’ll be pausing all non-critical digital work, and scaling back our support service, so we can focus on our number one priority: delivery of a new user focussed for the general public.

Here’s what’s happening with content, user experience, analytics, social media and HSE Live.


Currently, has a mix of content and services for public, staff and professional audiences. The new will focus exclusively on helping the public to navigate the health service, and support them with managing their health and wellbeing.

Delivering content that enables these users to complete a task or make a decision is what’s most important now.

To do this, we’ll be redesigning the content the public need most from our current website in line with our content principles and guidelines. We’ll also be gradually integrating and redesigning content from the various stand-alone HSE websites, like

We’ve been busy working through multiple content design projects and collaborating with subject matter experts across the organisation to make sure our new content is accurate and meets our users’ needs. If we take the time to create clear content, our users won’t have to spend too much of their time trying to understand it.

Less is often more when it comes to content. We’re happy to see that for some projects the amount of words and pages has decreased but user satisfaction has increased.

Done so far:

Work in progress:

Up next:

  • Health a-z
  • Patient information (before, during and after a hospital stay)
  • Medicines a-z
  • Emergencies
  • Diabetic retina screening - integration
  • Older people services

User experience and digital development

The integration of all these websites and content is a huge challenge. Our first steps have involved lots of user research, developing a new beta website, figuring out how all the separate pieces will fit together on our new sites (85+ websites into 2!) and continuous testing as we make iterative improvements.

Beta - testing our new approach

In March we launched a new beta website. This is a limited release of the new public website which lets us get live feedback so we can see what’s working, and what’s not before we go live. It contains a small cross-section of pregnancy and child health content.

Tagging system

This beta site is also our first chance at testing out our new tagging system. This involves creating a system of content categories and tags to ensure all our content is connected, logically grouped and easy to find.

With such a wide range of content topics, services and user journeys, this is a complicated job that we’ll be constantly refining.

Research and testing

We’ve done a lot of user research to help shape the new and ensure we’re meeting our user’s needs. Everything we do needs to be validated with data and evidence.

Done so far:

  • Moderated usability testing of the beta site with 16 participants.
  • Split-testing to compare the performance of content like parents benefits and leave arrangements(old) vs. parents benefits and entitlements (new) - the new content was a clear winner, with a 27% improvement in user engagement.
  • 3 rounds of card sorting for child health content with 25 participants.

Top tasks

We’ve been working to find out what our users’ top tasks are when dealing with their health online. Over 3,500 users have been involved and we can see useful trends that help us to structure our website and content around our users’ priorities.

Measuring success

Now that the top tasks have been defined, we have 2 main measures of success:

  • task completion - could users do what they came to do?
  • time on task - how long did it take them to do it?

We want to increase task completion rate and decrease the time on task.

Our aim is to continuously improve users’ experience by making it easier and faster for people to complete their top tasks on the site. We’ll be testing out these top tasks with users so that we can see where we need to improve.

Data and analytics

Data and analytics are a crucial element of all this work as they can show us how our online experiences are performing and where we need to do more work. We’ve been embedding data and analytics into all our work processes.

Analytics reports tell us where website visitors come from, what devices they are using and how they are engaging with our content. Keyword research, looking into what words people are using to find our content, helps us to see any gaps by highlighting what users are looking for online that we’re not providing.

We also look at user satisfaction rates, user feedback on our site and HSE Live queries.


The search function on a website is important for large websites like where there is a lot of information on a wide range of topics. Our users only need the information that’s relevant to them - they need precise search results, fast.

Our research has highlighted that users were frustrated with the search function on our website. To improve the search experience we launched a new and improved search tool on our site, earlier this year.

Of course, the search function is only as good as the content and how that content is tagged. So we need to do a lot of work to ensure we’re making the most of this new tool.


We have a responsibility to ensure our online experiences are accessible to all, so people with disabilities can use them too. This is often called “web accessibility” or sometimes “universal design”.

Our team have recently been trained in how to meet the accessibility requirements of our users. We have also developed accessibility standards and guidelines to help us will implement WCAG 2.1 Guidelines for accessibility.

Social media

The HSE social media footprint is significant and growing. We recently welcomed our 30,000th follower on Twitter @HSELive. This graphic nicely illustrates the breadth of work we do on social channels:

Graphic showing the HSE's audience size across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat

There is a social media element to almost every piece of communications work. It’s no longer a question of will we use social but rather how will we use it to achieve our objectives. The social team have supported 80 communications projects since January 2018.

Our priority this year is to implement our social media strategy. We’ve already made good progress on this work using a project-based approach.

Social is the biggest driver of traffic to online content. This is done in a planned and strategic way to ensure that the right audiences are getting the right messages at the right time.

Key projects this year:

  • HPV vaccine campaign delivered 27,809 visitors to (85% new users), 270,816 video views, 6,223 comments and 3,231 shares of our HPV campaign content, contributing to an increase in uptake of the HPV vaccine.
  • Facebook campaigns delivered 44% of traffic to, 47% to and over 106,504 conversions on
  • A new process for weekly social content calendars and community management and Facebook marketing strategy for @HSEIreland.

Up next:

  • Child health campaigns to support pregnant women and their partners, and parents of babies and toddlers, with advice on health, wellbeing and parenting Winter campaigns: flu vaccine, injury units and advice on how to manage colds and flu
  • Sexual wellbeing campaign - including our next Instagram account
  • Facebook groups to support people who are trying to quit smoking
  • Next phase of HPV campaign

HSE Live

The team at HSE Live provide information to the public about the health service through phone, web chat and social media. Between January and July 2018 we received 101,006 queries from the public. This includes:

  • 46,959 phone calls
  • 20,865 emails
  • 33,182 web chats

The top 4 queries across all channels are on:

  • European Health Insurance Card
  • Births, deaths and marriages
  • Medical cards
  • Information about hospitals

This direct contact with the public provides us with useful information that helps us understand their needs, frustrations with the website and informs many of our digital roadmap projects.  A change to content on the website, or a sudden change in the information our users need, like during an emergency, impacts the HSE Live service.

By working closely, we can join the dots and provide the best possible experience using all of our digital channels effectively.

Streamlining our internal support service

In February, we introduced a new ticketing system so we can now deliver a more efficient support service to colleagues who email us with requests for help. Since then, we’ve resolved over 2,800 requests for support and gotten lots of positive feedback from our colleagues on this new process.

The ticketing system gives us visibility of all live requests and helps us to assign them to the best person for the job. We run a rota across the team to respond to requests like broken links, content updates or uploading files. This means we’re not involving everyone with small pieces of work, distracting from priority projects.

We’re excited to be working on such ambitious projects to transform the online user experience for the health service.

We’ll be sharing more updates as we move forward with our digital roadmap.