Omni worked with Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups (BNSSG CCG’s) with one aim: producing websites, consultation apps and communication tools to the same level as the fantastic gov.uk site.
From the start of the relationship, we respected the fact that the NHS holds a special place in British society - but a quick glance at many NHS systems, software and applications would suggest that the current options available to it were not meeting its unique needs. We decided that a new approach would be needed - and Omni, BNSSG and the SCWCSU agreed to build a suite of tools where the underlying codebase was shared - no binding contracts or legal tie-ins. As soon as any site was deployed, the NHS organisation owned that instance, no questions asked.
One of the challenges with this relationship was meeting the NHS’ branding requirements, also ensuring that design considerations for one system did not affect the others, without at any stage compromising on accessibility.
The design was forward-thinking at the time, and fortunately, this leads to the sites mostly still conforming to NHS guidelines, despite them having been recently updated. The default design for core NHS is clean and clear - we nicknamed it ‘clinical’, and it allows for per-site customisations and overrides, i.e. colour changes, alternative logos and social feeds etc. Crucially, it puts content and patients’ needs first and is quick to load and easy to navigate.
Since launch, the site has been through two separate re-audits, covering both contents as well as code, first with a blind accessibility consultant, and the second through an accessibility audit professional. As we would expect, both reviews provided valuable insight into how we could better police content, and highlighted new techniques and considerations which we could release into the shared codebase.