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The HR team in Registers of Scotland were launching their new competency framework, which would be used internally for KPI benchmarks, and externally for recruiting.

I worked in the Internal Communications team as the sole digital officer, responsible for the intranet and news channels.

The problem:

The HR team had received a huge amount of feedback that seemed to indicate that people weren’t sure where they fit into the framework. The initial request that came to my team was to build both an internal and external website with ‘filter and compare’ capability so that employees in one grade could compare their current competencies with the same competencies in another grade (like a product comparison).

There were a few problems with this:

  • We received the request one week before intended launch
  • Our intranet did not have this functionality built-in and I didn’t have capacity to build anything from scratch
  • The external website team were also at capacity with projects, and they would need additional development too

I also felt that most people wouldn’t compare their careers in the same way they’d compare an iPhone. When purchasing a phone, you have a choice. When making a career move, it’s unlikely that you’d be able to jump from the bottom grade to the top, even if you did display the correct competencies.

How I got involved:

The request was originally made to the team’s graphic designer who had worked on designing the original word document version of the framework. The new request required a bit more knowledge of our systems and constraints, so I decided to take it on. Once the request was handed over to me, I let them know that our team would not be fulfilling their original request, but would offer an alternative that should suit both internal and external audiences.


  • I wasn’t allowed to change the copy.

How I worked out the next steps:

I asked for all the raw user group feedback, which was anonymous. The feedback validated my original assumptions that the user (employees) didn’t want to compare their careers, they just wanted to know what affected them personally.


The original document was arranged by competency, detailing how it applied to each grade. It was a long document (and still is), and it forced users to keep flipping until the end to read all of one grade’s competencies.

I rearranged the order of the content, stating up-front what each competency meant, then arranging the rest of the content by grade rather than competency.

I added additional copy and visuals to summarise what the document was about, and explain the grades to those looking to join the company.

I then designed an interactive PDF, which allowed the user to quickly navigate to other grades, definitions, or competency as needed.

Visual to quickly summarise grades for non-employees

I then designed an interactive PDF, which allowed the user to quickly navigate to other grades, definitions, or competency as needed.


The requesting team liked the result, and we released it internally and on recruitment drives on the intended launch date. This was followed up by training sessions to help employees understand how to use the competency framework in planning their careers and assessing their own team members.

Competency framework

Lessons learned:

You don’t need all the bells and whistles when launching a new ‘product’. Starting off simple is the best way to get more feedback and determine next steps.