Camden Council
What we did
User experience design
User Research
Children sat around a table joyfully painting pictures

The London borough of Camden has excellent service provision and information available for parents and carers of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). But if you don’t already know about these services, it’s not easy to find them online. The ‘Local Offer’ website isn’t easy to navigate.

Over the years, different teams at Camden Council have attempted to tackle some long-standing information architecture issues. But most of those efforts have reached a natural limit over the sheer size of the challenge, and competing priorities within the council. The drive and determination to make critical change was still present, but it was unclear what the next step for this project could look like.

Clearleft collaborated with Camden Council on a short but intense research project that culminated with a prototype that demonstrated better wayfinding.

I loved the ambition and drive of the Clearleft team. The stakeholder workshops were insightful and the prototype really helped us think about search differently.
Louise Brown, Head of Digital Products and Services at London Borough of Camden

The Results

A research-informed prototype

Research-based insights brought to life in a tangible prototype.

A roadmap for the future

Strategic and tactical improvements demonstrating successful way-finding, acting as a guiding star for future work.

A reinvigorated team

After years of competing priorities and slow progress, having a demo has ignited a new eagerness to see this project through to the benefit of the council’s citizens.

The Full Story

How do you re-energize a long-running project?

There was a sense of weariness among some of the people we interacted with. “We’ve been here before!”, we heard. “This again?”.

We realised quickly that we needed to show, not tell. Whatever we uncovered in our research wouldn’t lead to anything if the findings were simply presented; they needed to be embodied in something visual that would take this project to fruition.

Our aim throughout the duration of the project was to enable SEND experts to be the agents of change. We consulted and listened to their experience, and held a co-design workshop through which they contributed to the end prototype. Their critical input meant a better informed design that had buy in and relevance for the team at Camden.

How do you conduct effective research in a short space of time?

Key user interviews with front-line workers, parents and service providers, were supplemented by plenty of desk research. The challenge that Camden faces is one that is shared by multiple councils up and down the country. The council themselves had anecdotal examples of ‘best in show’ approaches from across England.

SEND subject matter experts were critical to our understanding of users. We held multiple structured workshops to find out about research and progress to date, and to learn about the challenges of their day-to-day roles. These conversations helped us to understand not just the user journeys that could happen on the site, but those that happen outside in the real world.

A yellow grid background with digital illustrations depicting a customer journey
Addressing information structure challenges related to special educational needs assistance.

How do you conclude a research project with a tangible deliverable?

Our research showed a clear pattern. Information was organised in a way that didn’t match the mental model of the people who needed it most. By restructuring the navigation, search, and filtering, the same information could be far more findable.

We could have delivered these findings in a document or in a presentation alone, but it was clear that we needed to demonstrate what our proposals would mean for the site.

By creating a low-fidelity prototype – using existing Camden design language – the message was clear. A prototype is worth a thousand meetings.

A purple background with three vector wireframe examples
Low-fidelity prototype to help tell a story

With this tangible artefact in hand, everyone has a shared vision of what the future could look like for the Local Offer site. Taking a needs-based approach to information architecture, and demonstrating how this could look in practice, has unlocked a clear path forward.

A young woman is sitting working on a mac computer.
More work