Small changes big improvements how we improved the Salary Scale | firez
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Small changes, big improvements: how we improved the Salary Scale pages of the University

We often talk about bigger projects on our blog, but sometimes small changes and what seem like small tweaks can significantly improve the user experience.

One of our main goals with the new website is to make it easier for people to find the information they need. This is both at a general website level, so they can search and get to the right page, and at a page level, so that information is presented as clearly as possible.

Our recent work on salary scale pages is a good example of how we achieved this goal. These are pages that get a fair amount of traffic (after all, that’s why we all work here) and are pages that are of interest to both current staff and those looking for work with us. 2021 saw 16,000 page views for the main salary scale page only.

About a quarter of our visitors viewed these pages on a mobile phone. However, the old pages were difficult to read on a mobile device, as you had to scroll a lot in both directions to find the relevant part of the table. We don’t want to frustrate our users and waste their time searching for information like this. If you were thinking about working with us, it wouldn’t make a good first impression either.

Cell phone first

The design of our new website is « mobile first ». Unlike the old site, we now use responsive design to make sure our content automatically adjusts to screens of different sized devices. Mobile users don’t like excessive scrolling or zooming when searching for information. So instead of an extremely long table that had to be scrolled up and down and side to side, we’ve now split up the content so people only look at the information that’s relevant to them.

Staff would rarely, if ever, need to see each line of the salary scale, or even the grades that don’t apply to them, so we’ve separated each grade into its own table and under its own heading. This addition of headers means we now have contextual navigation on the right side of the page (on desktop) or in the drop-down menu at the top of the page (on mobile). This makes it quicker to move to the pay grade you are interested in.

menu showing grades from 4 to 10 with grade 8 highlighted

In line with these principles we have also separated the footnotes in the table, placing those that apply to all users at the top of the page, but keeping those specific to certain grades within that section.

For example, the minimum starting point for teaching staff only applies to those staff members in grade 10 and above, so we have only included that information in the Grade 10 section. Contribution points, however, are relevant for all grades , so they are explained at the top of the page. The top three grades are the only ones to which the minimum wage applies, so that too is only included in these tables.

salary value table with each row striped

Previously, this extra information was separated from the content it was supposed to explain, necessitating additional scrolling back and forth, which takes time and makes for a particularly awkward experience on mobile devices.

We also made a minor but very useful change to the tables themselves: striped lines in the table make it easier to keep your place and read directly along the line. We also removed the 0.00 from the salary figure as it cluttered the table and reduced clarity of information.

Similarly, we have changed the clinical salary scale pages. These were even more complex and had been particularly confusing, with many different footnotes, warnings and explanations. Again these have been placed in small tables with the appropriate information provided to the user at the relevant point on the page.

table of clinical salary values

Finally, with information now in our new « company information » content type and everything that was in a pdf now in full on the website, the content is more easily found both through University research:

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as well as Google search.

For more information on corporate information research and research, see Danny’s blog post on Addressing Corporate Information and Policies on the University website.

Overall, when all of these small changes are combined, we can see that what seem like a few relatively minor changes can make a big difference in the ease of finding information.

You can view the new salary pages below:

Salary scales for HE and academic support staff

Salary tables for clinical academic staff