Building a more accessible website for social housing residents 


The new website offers improved accessibility and an easier way to find information and request services

As part of its commitment to customer service, settle, a provider of social housing across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and South Cambridgeshire, approached dxw to design and launch their new website

settle’s previous website met many key accessibility criteria but the team had identified the need to update the site and improve the experience of their residents.

What we built

Over the period that settle’s previous website had been in place, they had seen a predictable shift in the way users access their site. We created a new website which is optimised for mobile-first and easier for all settle residents to use.

We built the website using WordPress, an open-source content management system that prioritises usability and flexibility for publishing teams. Following a successful launch, the site is now live and dxw is continuing to provide hosting and support.

User experience needs to be a priority for the housing sector. When information and websites are inaccessible it leads to inequality in the way residents access services. Truly understanding the needs of customers and having a solid UX approach not only has the potential to increase tenant engagement, but also improve customer service and simplify processes. 

Through our partnership with dxw, we’ve been able to benefit from their specialist expertise and experience. The team has guided us through the redesign in a way that’s been very evidence-based, agile and focused on the needs of our users. The result is a website that offers greater usability and accessibility for our residents. 

Randall Shortland, digital experience manager at settle

The best way to see any service is through the eyes of the people that use it. By understanding the wants and needs of settle’s residents we were able to redesign the website and put in place the foundation for user-centric, accessible, digital services that enable meaningful dialogue and improve the online experience for tenants. 

Farrah Farhoudi, Operations Lead at dxw 

Our work with settle featured in Housing Executive magazine.

How we did it

Over a period of 6 months, dxw specialists covering delivery, research, content design, interaction design and development worked as one team with settle, to design and build a website that offers improved accessibility and an easier way to find information and request services.

Building a prototype in the alpha phase

We began by interviewing different groups of users who interacted with the housing association like residents and homeowners who have bought a house from settle, to gain a deeper understanding of their user experience. The priorities for the alpha phase were to understand how much existing content settle had, the current structure of the website, the issues that both staff and users have with the website, and any constraints around the design of a new site. 

During alpha, we built a prototype so we could do usability testing on both the design and structure of the new website. We also held workshops and co-design sessions with team members from settle and dxw so we had a strong idea of what the priorities were for the new website, especially the homepage. This meant that we had lots of outputs we could then handover to the beta team.

Further development and user testing in the beta phase

The beta phase was run by dxw’s GovPress team who are specialists in designing, building and hosting WordPress websites. In this phase we further developed the prototype from the alpha and used this to build the live website. As the alpha produced a prototype with an information architecture that was tested with users, we were able to focus much of this phase of the design and placement of components for pages.

After mocking up designs for a slice of the website, we began to build in code. Once the MVP of the website was built, we ran a round of usability testing with a variety of different types of users. Overall the feedback was very positive, we had built a functional website that allowed you to find what you needed to intuitively. The settle team also found that adding content and updating the website was a smooth process. 

Providing ongoing hosting and support

As a number of the GovPress technical team helped to build the settle website, we developed a good knowledge of the codebase so we were ready to provide the best ongoing support for the site when it went live.

The website was launched in June 2022 and is now hosted on our GovPress platform as a service.