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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

When you move a service online you need to understand how your users already engage with the digital world. People will not use your service if it doesn’t work for them. If you find that you need to help your users to get online, develop their skills or access devices and connectivity see our guide to Digital Inclusion

Three key actions 

  • Measure the digital skills of your users 
  • Think about how your users will be accessing your service 
  • Start with platforms (apps/software) that they already use 


The Essential Digital Skills framework is used across Scotland. It offers two short checklists that users can complete with your support.  

Foundation Skills- Check if your users can do simple tasks like connecting to WiFi 

Essential Skills - Check if your users have all the skills they need to be part of the digital world 


Devices are the physical things that people use to access the internet, such as phones, iPads or laptops.  

When you are designing a service you are likely to be using a work computer, at a desk in an environment where you can concentrate.  

Your users will generally be accessing your service from their home setting. They are more likely to use a smartphone or tablet and be in a shared space with other people.

As you design your service you should test it in conditions that match the experiences of your users.   

If your users do not have access to any devices in their household then you might be able to build this into a funding bid. 


Often people only think of sight loss and screen readers when considering accessibility of online services. There are many other conditions which affect people’s online experience.  

These include colour blindness, hearing impairments, physical disabilities, dyslexia, autism, cognitive issues, learning disabilities and many others.  You should consider the range of people who use your service.  

All devices have a range of accessibility features built in as standard, for example speech to text through Siri or Google Assistant. Digital tools will also usually have guidance to help users, for example Facebook navigation assistant

You should ensure you familiarise yourself with these features, and design and test your service so that it is inclusive and accessible.    

Preferred platforms 

A common pitfall when building digital services is a big list of essential requirements. This is often because you want to respond to all concerns about ethics, privacy and safeguarding.  

However, this may mean you meet the needs of your organisation, and not the needs of your users. It may also mean the service becomes too expensive to deliver. 

You should spend some time learning what platforms your users are already comfortable with. This insight will let you choose an approach that strikes a balance between your ideal functionality, and likely uptake by your users.  

In general the services that are successful are the ones that go to where their users already are.  


We must all ensure our digital offering is accessible to as many people as possible
by Siobhan Mercer, SCVO

How a Scottish charity used whatsapp to deliver services remotely during the coronavirus crisis 
by The Catalyst

10 principles to help charities build better services  

Shared principles for designing services in Scotland
by Scottish Government

Understand user needs: plan research, prepare for session, share and analyse findings 
by Government Digital Service

Last modified on 23 November 2023
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