Awarded to The Dextrous Web (trading as dxw)

Start date: Monday 1 November 2021
Value: £174,600
Company size: SME
National Audit Office (NAO)

NAO website redevelopment alpha-beta

15 Incomplete applications

14 SME, 1 large

29 Completed applications

29 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Wednesday 11 August 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 18 August 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 25 August 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Contracted out service: the off-payroll rules do not apply
Summary of the work
Alpha and beta to redevelop the NAO’s external website (

We want to work with a digital delivery partner to iteratively improve our website, content management platform, and design system.
Latest start date
Monday 11 October 2021
Expected contract length
25 weeks for alpha and beta
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
National Audit Office (NAO)
Budget range
The overall budget range for both phases is £150,000 and £175,000 excluding VAT. For alpha, the maximum budget is £80,000 excluding VAT.

We expect suppliers to cost the alpha and beta phases based on the requirements. The expected delivery time for alpha is 8 to 12 weeks, and beta by the end of March 2022. Please note there will be a gap of approximately 4 weeks between alpha and beta, during which key outcomes from alpha will be assessed and business case approval sought for continuation to beta.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The NAO has committed to redeveloping the website as part of its 2020-25 strategy to: improve our support for effective public accountability; provide more accessible independent insight; and increase our impact on outcomes and value for money.

To achieve these objectives we have set out three strategic enablers: (1) We will attract, retain and develop high quality people; (2) We will make more effective use of technology, data and knowledge; and (3) We aim to be an exemplar organisation. Within the second enabler we have committed to making our website easier to access the knowledge and insights from our work. However, we also need to ensure it is ‘exemplar’ both in terms of meeting user needs but also demonstrating value for money.

By the end of beta, we need an improved website for the NAO (a minimum viable product), which we may then continue to develop. The MVP needs to meet the needs of key users and to reflect the vision of the project, which is:
Our website makes our knowledge and insight accessible and impactful, while reinforcing our reputation as the UK’s independent public spending watchdog.
Problem to be solved
Our discovery research showed that audiences find the current website hard to read, struggle to find content that is relevant, and aren’t clear what the NAO offer for them is. Some parts of the website do not work well on mobile devices and are not fully accessible.

The current WordPress website has had no significant investment since 2013.

We need a solution that addresses the pain points for key audiences, and that lays the foundation for a secure, scalable and sustainable website platform.

Alpha should deliver an improved design system to make the website content easier to find and read, including design components, improving the search function and site navigation. We expect analysis and prototypes for validation through user research. Alpha must also explore ways to improve the technical architecture and development & hosting model. In particular, one output of the alpha phase is a decision on whether (in beta) to do a full site rebuild and migration, or to improve the existing site.

Beta will build on the outcomes of alpha – implementing improvements to the technical architecture or site configuration, including those that support SEO and analytics. We expect “go-live” of some components or templates.
Who the users are and what they need to do
• Parliamentarians (MPs and other Parliamentary staff) – need to find specific reports on the website, find knowledge by theme and issue, want to know how the NAO website can support their role
• Public sector guidance seekers (i.e people who work in the public sector to support delivering public services, delivering government policy, or supporting the work of Arms Length Bodies) – want cross-government good practice guidance, want to know NAO’s remit and offer to them
• NAO staff who upload and update content on the website – also need to track website activity (analytics) and ensure it is search engine optimised

Re-developing the website for these primary user groups will also cover similar needs for our wider audiences. However, there are other audiences (such as auditees, job seekers, journalists and the wider public) with specific needs that we could explore further, dependent on time and budget.
Early market engagement
Six suppliers were contacted to get feedback on our requirements, to understand what skills would be needed to deliver them, and how long the work could take.
Any work that’s already been done
We commissioned an agency (via G-Cloud framework) for the discovery phase. Work was carried out to understand key website audiences and their unmet needs, and to formulate recommendations. Discovery activities included:
• NAO stakeholder interviews
• Survey of website users
• Persona development
• Depth interviews across key users
• Concept testing with users
• Technical discovery
• Recommendations report

Discovery reports can be downloaded from our website:
Existing team
The core team at NAO is:
• Dan Gluckman – Product Owner – Senior Digital Communications Manager, NAO
• Yeen Lau – Delivery Manager, NAO
• Kindra Hyttner – Project Director – Head of External Communications, NAO
• Daniel Lambauer – Senior Responsible Owner – Executive Director, NAO

Governance is provided by a Project Board and the Executive Team.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
We expect alpha work will be done remotely, although you may be expected to attend or facilitate meetings at NAO’s offices in London (157-197, Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SP).
Working arrangements
The supplier will work as part of a Delivery team in agile sprints. We expect the supplier to project manage the delivery.
Security clearance
All suppliers’ personnel must have security clearance level BPSS at minimum or be prepared to undergo security clearance process.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
The NAO reserves the right to terminate the contract by convenience at any phase of the project. The NAO will notify the supplier in advance by giving 5 working days notice if it decides to terminate by convenience.

The NAO reserves the right not to continue with the beta phase following completion of the alpha phase. The NAO will notify the supplier in advance by giving 5 working days notice if it decides not to continue with the beta phase.

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Information architecture design and implementation
  • User research
  • UX, UI and interaction design services that meet accessibility legislation and best practice
  • Rapid development of prototypes created iteratively based on user testing and discovery findings
  • WordPress development, and experience of delivering solutions based on WordPress
  • Experience of managing a phased roll out of new website architecture (including migrations)
  • Experience of delivering cloud based website solutions, on infrastructure that is certified to ISO/IEC 27001 and Cyber Essentials
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience working with public sector clients and demonstrating value for money i.e. the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • Evidence of having passed GDS service assessments
  • Experience of developing content strategy
  • Experience of delivering end-to-end service transformation

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • How the approach or solution will achieve the aims set out under "Problem to be solved" and the stated user needs
  • Proposed programme and timeframes for alpha and beta - the proposal will be evaluated to determine if the approach can realistically produce a minimum viable product by end March 2022
  • Relevance of proposed technical solution
  • Identification of risks with a plan to manage them
  • Value for money
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate your approach to engaging with internal stakeholders at all levels (with different background of technical expertise and agile working experience)
  • Demonstrate how you will work transparently and collaboratively with the project team and seek actionable feedback
  • Demonstrate experience of supporting and coaching other team members
  • Demonstrate your ability to adapt your approach when dealing with blockers, or major new insights from prototyping and research
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. We are a CMS-agnostic agency, and would recommend that during initial Discovery the current Wordpress platform is evaluated for suitability, factoring-in staff re-training costs, alongside a cost/benefit analysis, and the impact on project cost and timeline.
With this in mind, I wanted to ask if you’ve decided to stick with Wordpress for the new site, or whether you’d consider a CMS agnostic approach, with an appropriate platform selected on the basis of functional fit?
We have decided to stay with WordPress for the new site. This was one of the recommendations from discovery - see (pages 15 and 16) which gives the rationale for this decision.
2. Is Wordpress mandatory? Would you consider using other opensource CMS solutions such as Drupal9, which offer better security, performance and functionality?
We have decided to stay with WordPress for the reasons outlined in (pages 15 and 16). There would have to be strong business or security reasons for us to consider alternative CMS solutions.
3. Given the ambition for change and the wide scope of improvements needed when rebuilding, are you open to suppliers proposing a more suitable CMS platform? Your budget would comfortably cover a change of platform and migration, and we feel Drupal would give you a much more solid, secure foundation for the site, based on our experiences across organisations with similar scale and complexity. Your technical discovery indicates concern about Wordpress’s limitations including configuration management, and we would also raise concerns about its module/customisation approach and security. You mention NAO’s familiarity with Drupal – would you consider this instead?
Yes, we are open to suppliers proposing an alternative CMS platform, though this would have to be weighed against the benefits of remaining on WordPress.
4. Is the agency who carried out the discovery phase bidding for this work?
The agency who carried out the discovery phase has been informed that these requirements have been published, but we do not have knowledge at this point whether they will bid for this work.
5. We have Cyber Essentials but we don’t have ISO27001. Would this preclude us from this procurement?
This doesn't necessarily preclude you from this procurement. To clarify our requirement:
The infrastructure hosting the NAO Data must be certified to the information security standard ISO/IEC 27001.
a. Ideally you will have ISO27001 or IASME Gold Assured Certification.
b. If you don’t have it then you commit to achieving it within 2 years of contract award.
c. AND you need to demonstrate in the Security Management Plan how you will align (i.e. setting out the roadmap for delivering against point a. above).
6. Can you supply the recent accessibility audit report, noted in the Technical Discovery?
Please see - at the bottom of the page, you will find links to the accessibility audit reports from 2019 and 2020.
7. What sort of SLA are you expecting for web hosting (e.g. 99.95% or 99.99% SLAs are common)?
We expect a SLA of 99.95% for web hosting.
8. Should a security PEN test be included as part of this project budget?
9. Once you have shortlisted suppliers, what is the timeline for the next stage (written proposal & presentation)?
We will shortlist suppliers by 1st September. Shortlisted suppliers will be invited to submit written proposals and a reference by 15th September. Presentations to take place on either 17th or 20th September.
10. The Technical Discovery notes mention merging existing sub-sites into the main website as part of this project. Can you supply URLs for the sub-sites that this is likely to cover?
This is likely to cover the following subsites:
11. The Technical Discovery notes “SaaS hosting is the preferred strategic option” – are there any preferred or existing suppliers NAO use for WordPress hosting?
Our existing WordPress hosting provider is CIVIC.
Our preferred cloud provider is Azure from Microsoft.
12. Is the total project budget for alpha and beta (of £150,000 to £175,000) exclude ongoing services such as hosting, support and maintenance? Or are you expecting these within this budget, if so for how many years should it cover?
The total project budget for alpha and beta excludes ongoing services such as hosting, support and maintenance.
13. When do you expect to award this opportunity?
We expect to award this opportunity before 11th October 2021.
14. Will there be an opportunity to have a meeting with you to discuss details of the project if we are shortlisted for this opportunity?
There will not be an opportunity to discuss details of the project on a call. Shortlisted suppliers will be allowed to post questions during the clarification process.
15. Would the successful supplier have access to all of the research documentation created during Discovery? ie, recordings and transcripts.
16. The Discovery report focuses on a primary user group which is helpful. However, how different do you envisage the wider audiences to be, and what is the scope to research with this audience during the Alpha phase?
We have identified further audiences for the site, such as auditees, job-seekers and journalists. We expect that many of their needs overlap with our identified primary audiences, and although there is scope for further research, we would expect this to be limited, given the budget and timescale.
17. The discovery document suggests carrying out a privacy impact assessment – is this for the supplier to quote on or for NAO to manage?
This is for the NAO to manage.
18. Is there any scope to update or improve the wireframes shared?
Yes. The concept sketches created in discovery were used to test ideas with target audiences. They can be updated and new wireframes/prototypes could be created in the next phases of the project.
19. Are there any mobile wireframes available? Are you looking for the supplier to quote for mobile wireframes or should we ignore this requirement?
No mobile wireframes have been created so far. Yes we are looking for the supplier to quote for mobile wireframes as well. We require a refreshed design that is responsive on different screen sizes.
20. Regarding SEO – are you able to share the keywords that you would like the website to be ranking well on?
Not yet - this is on the 'To do' list.
21. How many stakeholders will be involved in the sign off process?
At a sprint level, two stakeholders on the project operations team would be expected to give feedback on sprint deliverables.
At a work package level, where user acceptance testing is appropriate, the sign off process would involve approval by the designated domain expert, two on the project operations team, and the accountable stakeholder - around 4 people in total.
At the Alpha/Beta level, the sign off process would involve the Project Board (that meets monthly) and the Executive Team - around 20 stakeholders in total.
22. Is there a visual sitemap available or would you like the supplier to quote for the creation of a sitemap based on the Discovery outputs?
We expect a visual sitemap to be created by the supplier as part of Alpha.
23. The discovery document suggests performing a content audit; would you like the supplier to include a cost for supporting with this audit? Or will you share audit findings with suppliers before moving to the build phase?
We are doing a content audit internally and will not require the supplier to support this. We will share audit findings with the supplier as soon as available.
24. Given that you’re open to other CMS platforms could you please give some guidance as to how suppliers proposing alternative solutions should approach addressing the ‘essential skills and experience’ item mandating Wordpress experience?
We are open to suppliers proposing an alternative CMS platform, but this would have to be weighed against the benefits of remaining on WordPress, with a proper cost/benefit analysis. We expect that an agency would need WordPress experience to do this effectively, so if you have limited experience of WordPress, you would need to explain how you would mitigate any risks in making this assessment.
25. Are you expecting a customised Design System or can we use a 3rd party service?
We had not considered a third party system, but would be open to this if we were convinced that there were no significant drawbacks or risks.
26. Could you please confirm your success criteria for the new website?
Improved content findability
Taxonomy that supports surfacing of related content
Site map that has been tested with users
Consistent design system that enables improved accessibility and mobile responsiveness
Improved technical architecture and development model that lays the foundation for a secure, scalable, sustainable website platform
Content governance processes in place
Rewritten or new content that is more structured, readable and legible, that solves these issues:
- Current website is text-heavy and hard to read
- Too much introductory content on pages
- Some copy is too internally facing
- Some audiences don't understand the NAO’s offer to them
27. Who will be responsible for content population?
Content population will be overseen by the NAO's Senior Digital Communications Manager, with specific individuals (across several teams) at the NAO having responsibility to write and post content.
28. Are you seeking an agency that will support you on rewriting the website’s content and messaging?
29. Can we suggest implementing a web application firewall or will suppliers need to strictly follow the technical hosting requirements shared?
We are open to the suggestion of a web application firewall. The security of the overall solution is the key requirement.