westminster parliament
Credit: By mauricedb on Flickr. Some rights reserved
The organisation behind the UK democracy website TheyWorkForYou.com is preparing a redesign and improvements to the site's search function and usability – and is making more data freely available.

MySociety, the site owner, has a small team of developers and designers working on improvements to the site, which tracks MPs' appearances in parliament and their voting record.

It's not the sort of site where we can do a total redesign and just put it live overnight. But sections of the site are having real attention put on them.Myf Nixon
Communications manager Myf Nixon said the team were "looking at user behaviour intently".

"We're big on usability," she told Journalism.co.uk, "for every little element of the site we're looking at how we can make it as useable as possible. 

"Design was never the top priority [when the site launched] – content was. It's time for TheyWorkForYou to get attention. TheyWorkForYou is under our spotlight at the moment. We will be rolling out a new design.

"We've been working very much on a sprint basis – prioritising tickets, getting things done bit by bit. It's not the sort of site where we can do a total redesign and just put it live overnight. But sections of the site are having real attention put on them."

She added that search results are a key area for improvement, as they "can be a bit daunting". The changes should make it easier for journalists to find specific information on an MP, their voting record and their appearances.

"We're looking at ways of making them clearer and easier. Our search pages are really important," Nixon said.

"We've had a survey running on the site for some time which says: did you find what you were looking for? And if they didn't, we invite them to tell us what they were looking for and what their problems were. 

"We've got all of that data to look in to – we haven't conducted any face-to-face user testing for a while but certainly we've been looking at user behaviour quite intently."

TheyWorkForYou is also looking to make its data more easily available to third party developers and data journalists who might be interested in making tools or visualisations in the run-up to next year's general elections.

The site has recently published and analysed details of all 1,085 votes held in the House of Commons since the 2010 elections and how individual MPs voted.

Nixon added: "Everything we do is open source – that code is available for people to pick up and use if they want to make apps. Perhaps you could match your opinions to the voting records of specific MPs or see which MP you are most like.

"(For developers interested in the data) it would be a matter of get in touch with us if you want to use it and we will set you up with access."

Update:
This article has been upadte to clarify the number of developers and designers working on the changes.

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