Camden Website Redesign Project User Research

Table of content
Page Why do user research? Research methods Recruiting users Other ways of recruiting users Challenges in recruiting users for this project Questionnaire Design Usability Testings Why usability testing is important Our finding shows what’s currently happening This chart shows what should be happening Research Findings Our Research on eyetracking Vs. observational tracking 11 Conclusion 11 4 6 6 7 8 8 3 3 4 2 2

User Research
For the past few months on this project, we have been going through several user research sessions using different approaches. From focus groups to individual user testing’s in the users home. Why do user research? You should do some level of user research when the high level design of your application is underway. Task analysis provides important clues to what the interface organization and conceptual design should be,” (Weinschenck, p. 26) • Yes it costs money to do user research. It costs even more money to go into litigation because nobody though about the user first. According to Jakob Nielsen “Modern day user experience research methods can now answer a wide range of questions. Knowing when to use each method can be understood by mapping them in 3 key dimensions and across typical product development phases.” We felt the user research will • • • Be able to remove stumbling blocks from the user’s path through the website. Be able to get it right early, means moving on faster. Help to satisfy users achieve their goals through the interface •

Research methods


Here are some of the research methods that can be used in website redesign projects like ours. We however chose to use focus groups, eyetracking, usability lab studies, A/B testing’s, user interviews and contextual enquiries. Recruiting users

Since Camden has its own consultative panel of nearly 2000 residents called “Camden Talks”, we decided it was the best way to recruit our users from this pool of residents. Emails were sent out to prospective users according to types and categories of users. They were given a week to respond and were also offered some incentive to participate. Other ways of recruiting users Steve Krug gives some great examples on ways to recruit users for website redesign: a. Throw money at the problem (outsourcing)– You can hire a recruiter if you don’t have the time or inclination to do recruiting. b. Look in places where the kinds of people you are looking for tend to congregate. For example, if you want to test senior citizens, consider senior centres, libraries and church groups. If you want people who use your website, put a link on your homepage or 3

create a pop-up invitation that appears when they enter or leave. c. Testing with people who work for your own organization. d. Tack it up on bulletin boards. e. Post it on message boards. f. Email it to your professional or personal network and ask them to pass it on to anyone they think might be interested. Challenges in recruiting users for this project There were a few challenges in obtaining users for this research. Doing the user research during working hours caused people to decline the invitation. • In the beginning we didn’t offer cash gift incentive making it harder for users to commit to the research and cancelling at the last minute but this was promptly overcome by offering the cash gift incentive. • Finding the right users for the right categories. It was difficult to match users to the exact profiling that was needed for the research. But we tried to match it as best and close as we could. Questionnaire Design We conducted some user interviews and contextual enquiries for this project and you might be wondering what sort of questions we asked. In order to fully understand our users, we felt we needed to understand their background, skills and habits. Therefore the questions were divided into different categories which include:a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. About You In this section, we wanted to learn more about the user such as • • • How long they’ve lived in Camden. Are they currently employed. What qualifications they have. 4 About you Tech and gadgets Mobile Internet Contact and engagement with Camden Council Perceptions and reputation of Camden Council A typical scenario using Camden website Frequent tasks and improvements of Camden website i. The users wish list for Camden’s new website •

• How they travel for work or leisure. • What their typical day is like Tech and gadgets In this section, we just wanted to understand their approach to technology in regards to when, where and how they buy new devices and gadgets. And also what technology devices they own. Mobile We also wanted to understand their mobile usage and how it affects their internet usage by asking questions such as:• Do you have a PAYG or fixed contract? • Do you use your mobile to access the internet? • Have you ever paid for anything using your mobile? Internet This section was important to understand how users use the internet in their everyday lives. The questions would ask: Where they would typically access the internet. What device they would use If they are comfortable and confident using the internet How frequently they use it If there is a breakdown between personal use and for their job or studying • How they connect to the internet at home • What is the display resolution • What are the websites they like and frequently visit • Do they ever contribute to any websites personally • If they have ever used the Camden Council website Contact and engagement with Camden Council In order to understand how users and currently engaging with the council, it was important to ask how they typically contact the council and which services they most use and benefit from. Perceptions and reputation of Camden Council We felt users perceptions and Camden’s reputation may have an effect on their willingness to use the council’s website, therefore we asked the following questions to gain insight on this matter. In your view is there anything that Camden council do particularly well? • What do they do badly? • Would you say you are broadly happy or unhappy with Camden council? A typical scenario using Camden website • • • • • •


This section tested users experience using the website by asking what and why they were trying to do on the website as well as what happened at each stage of the process. We also asked whether the problem or task managed to get resolved or completed in the end. This is so we could better understand any frustrations that a user might have while undertaking a typical task on our website. Frequent tasks and improvements for Camden website This section covers the basics of our website such as:• • • • • The What are your first impressions of the website? How easy do you find it to get around the site generally? How easy do you find it to locate the content you want? How good is the quality of the information you want? What improvement would you like to see Camden make? users wish list for Camden’s new website

This section explores further improvements that the user would like to add to make their user experience more usable and accessible.

Usability Testings
It was important for this project to carry out usability testing’s that accurately explored the problems and barriers users face when using our website. So the usability testings were conducted in the users home where they would use the machine and be in their normal surroundings. This helped to understand the constraints and challenges users face in their own environment.


The image above shows how the usability testing was conducted and the typical desktop environment that is found in a users home. Why usability testing is important In most situations or other types of websites, it’s quite easy to understand why usability testing is important. For instance, an ecommerce website will see users leaving a website before they finish a transaction as a loss of income but for a government website, the impact of bad website usability goes much further. Users use government website such as Camden Council’s website need to find essential information or carry out transactions that effects their lives. Failure to do these tasks can lead to users failure to benefit from council services that could help make their lives easier and more manageable. Therefore, usability testing in this project is vitally important to ensure residents get the services they need in a timely and efficient manner to avoid frustrations and delays. According to Jakob Nielsen usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word "usability" also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process. Usability is defined by five quality components: • • • • • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design? Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks? Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency? Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors? Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?

Our finding shows what’s currently happening


This chart shows what should be happening

These charts clearly shows that there is a disconnect between what should be happening and what is currently happening. We are hoping with the new website redesign, we will be able to address the disconnection and reduce users contact with the council through more costly channels such as the phone, letter and in person. 8

Research Findings We did discover a couple of things while conducting our usability testing on the current website.

Search box overlooked


The main sections are not as explicit as the popular links 10


Our Research on eyetracking Vs. observational tracking We also conducted our own research on eyetracking testing Vs. mouse tracking/observational testing’s. You can find the research here.

From the user research and usability testings, these insights were discovered: • Digital channels can improve on the ability to resolve tasks Email is neglected as a preferred form of communication because delays are frequent and responses are untrustworthy or sometimes unforthcoming entirely. Response times must be more consistent, with all responses focused on resolution within that channel wherever appropriate. The website is used frequently as a conduit for the phone channel, rather than a source of the desired information itself. Information must be made easier to locate, read and action. For a small but significant minority, primary contact with the council is seen as a barrier to resolution, and prefer instead to pursue direct contact with councillors. This perception needs to be dispelled to ensure customer services are not consistently circumvented or undermined. • Email is the natural successor to the letter to maintain trust & improve immediacy Residents preference for written correspondence stems primarily from a lack of trust in actions being recorded and pursued accordingly via other channels. Email could easily provide this security in a dramatically more immediate manner than a letter, assuming tracking of queries is simple, feedback is ongoing and any correspondence is maintained via a single appropriate voice of authority on the issue. Overpopulation of ‘activists’ in the local government landscape could distract from sincere efforts to listen and respond to broader citizen concerns. Website personalisation would be best utilised to expose relevant local services and frequently used information Displaying frequently used and hyperlocal content are two approaches to ensure that unique journeys through the site, and the key functions to that individual, are suitably emphasised. Users can be easily overwhelmed with content, 12

much of it irrelevant to their needs. Delivery of hyperlocal content would likely be most effective when handled passively, rather than via user-driven customisation, ideally through use of postcode information stored against an online resident account. • Engagement needs to be passive, proactive and ongoing to be most effective Current methods of engagement can seem disorganised or insincere. The belief is that excessive surveys and other quantitative techniques feel robotic or forceful, whilst tracking of progress regarding raised issues of concern is difficult if not impossible. Likewise, ongoing or repeat involvement is perceived as not valuable or desirable to the council. Evidence suggests that qualitative engagement methods are more likely to make residents feel listened to, valued and understood. Residents feel most influential when they are passively informed of consultations they would otherwise be unaware of, then engaged meaningfully throughout the entire consultation process and explicitly informed of ongoing developments and outcomes. Passive sentiment tracking is possible through the use of social media monitoring tools, though for the foreseeable future it is likely to overemphasise the thoughts and feelings of a minority elite of residents. However, the ability for Camden to seemingly 'mind read' the concerns of it's residents is a powerful tool and likely to generate an immensely positive reaction. Key improvements in website usability & visual design will significantly assist user engagement & productivity ○ Evidence suggests a preference for short, spacious pages instead of lengthy, condensed, text-heavy pages ○ Explicit association between content hierarchy and quick links should assist navigation and orientation ○ Improved visibility and functionality of search will enhance findability of content ○ Form processes can be made easier to increase conversion of self-servicing transactions ○ Phone numbers should be highly visible wherever they are essential to reduce suspicion and frustration ○ Increased use of data visualisation, video and other multimedia is likely to enrich engagement with content and is preferred over numerical or tabular displays of information ○ Improved error messaging will help reduce confusion and site abandonment 13

Significant demand for neutrality suggests a strictly informative, and moderately formal, tone would be the most effective form of communication on the website The use of prominent space on the home page to temporarily promote key events (such as adoption and fostering open evenings) can be divisive as it is open to interpretation of bias, favouritism or ‘preaching’. Any home page space used to promote key messages from the council needs to be carefully toned to be informative rather than pushy, and accommodate multiple messages across the broader spectrum of council activities. Residents use the website for a wide variety of purposes and neutrality of information is vital to ensure trust and prevent content from being obscured. Remember, ‘at your service’. Transparency of decision-making and conflict resolution improves understanding and positive sentiment Unaddressed or poorly maintained queries can cause a significant negative impact on confidence and trust in the council. Residents feel empowered, considered and more understood when they are regularly and passively informed of ongoing concerns, even if these concerns are not resolved to their satisfaction. Email queries should be addressed within a reasonable timeframe, with an indication of progress whenever resolution is not instantly possible. All outcomes, however negative, should be explicit, and dealt with in an open and honest manner.


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