Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Working with the north of Scotland's economic development agency

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is the Scottish Government’s economic and community development agency for the Highlands and Islands.

HIE have been a client of mine since I pitched to win the business over 7 years ago. Since then I have led a wide variety of digital marketing initiatives and projects, operating as an extension of their communications team.

We were originally hired as digital consultants to scope the redesign of hie.co.uk and the same design and underlying architecture still powers the site 6 years on.

The first task was to understand the complexity of the organisation and following that, define an information architecture and a set of design principles to maximise the usability of a large site.

We spoke to stakeholders from the full range of HIE's audiences, from government officials to journalists, local businesses and the general public - as well as sector teams, directors, senior management and more. Through a series of workshops that included card sorting excercises and the assembly of our 'cool wall' - we identified key objectives and strategic priorities and conducted a detailed task analysis to identify key tasks for online audiences.

HIE - Planning

Celebrating 50 years

For 50 years, Highlands and Islands Enterprise has been building the future of the Highlands and Islands, making it a competitive region. To mark this occasion, we created timeline.hie.co.uk.

I took the lead role in the project, working closely with HIE’s research and communications teams to identify content and key facts to bring the story to life. I devised 3 ways to browse the information. A timeline view categorised by decades, a stories view categorised by strategic sectors (or themes) and a Google map interface to visually and geographically represent HIE’s work over time.

50 years of HIE - Responsive visuals


The responsive site has an ‘app like’ feel to enhance the user experience and the navigation system is simple and intuitive. Stories are told through a combination of photography and video from the huge HIE archive and through infographics and our interactive map.

Our agile approach to the project is what made what seemed like an impossible deadline achievable. Timescales made it impossible to craft every aspect of the content, so we established a visual framework and rapidly prototyped core components on the Umbraco CMS platform. This allowed the project and client teams to assemble the website through the CMS in less than 4 weeks.