Posted: March 18th, 2013 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Branding, Design, Research, Search | No Comments »
Do you like our new site? We do.
The new vic.gov.au doesn’t just look more beautiful, it has had a radical functionality overhaul.
An obvious and smartsearch function, catalogue of Victorian Government social media and comprehensive event and service listings are just a few new features for vic.gov.au which has just gone live.
Based on rigorous user testing and introduced as one of the first deliverables of the Victoria Whole of Government ICT Strategy, vic.gov.au has been redesigned to make the most of its powerful search functionality and the changing online landscape.
- The search feature is proven to deliver better and more relevant results than major search engines when people are looking specifically for Victorian information
- An aggregated Twitter feed collates all tweets from across the Victorian Government in a live stream so visitors can see “What government is saying now”
- All Victorian Government mobile apps can be easily discovered via the mobile apps directory which also includes direct links to the appropriate app store
- Using responsive design the site automatically adapts to various screen sizes
- A new grants section aggregates information about all grants offered by the Victorian Government
vic.gov.au is an agile solution which can accommodate new and emerging online technologies and functionality, including new social media options.
Posted: January 16th, 2013 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Design, Research, Search | 1 Comment »
Stage 3 testing occurred during July 2012 as we had a functional website with our new search engine working in a User Acceptance Testing environment. Our new home page (see image below) features the large search box that users liked in the Stage 2 testing.
We were keen to test the same scenarios using our new search and to see whether users liked and understood our new-look search results page that features categorised search results. See an example of our new search results page below.
Our new search engine was now searching 5 repositories:
- Contacts & Services Directory
- Events Calendar
- Ask a question
Search results were displayed in a redesigned page clearly indicating which repository a search result was sourced from. If there were no results from a repository, then that particular repository did not display.
We were also keen to see whether search remained more popular than browse. We have kept the browse functionality on our new site, but have removed the persistent navigation that occurs on our current site. Instead we are now providing a dedicated browse page – see image below.
So what happened this time? Initial perception of the new home page was positive. Users felt that there was a definite clear starting point on the homepage. The large search box is a clear call to action for the user to type in their search term(s) and search the site. There was some ambivalence about whether the home page was cluttered. This is something that we will continue to test in Stage 4 (post-launch). As users got used to the website, they became more successful in completing the tasks. Task 1 had low satisfaction (9%) but the final task was 68% satisfaction.
Generally, users searched (Task 1 – 34%, Task 2 – 48%, Task 3 – 37%). Many users also used the new feature “Recent search terms”.
Several factors affected the overall satisfaction scores:
- Search engine still in the process of fine-tuning (at time of testing)
- Federal sites were favoured in search results over Victorian State sites. Going forward the new site will not include federal sites.
Some key findings were:
- 74% of users thought the home page had the right mix of information and direct links
- Users found the redesigned search results page logical. There was moderate satisfaction with the results page.
- Task 1:63% reported that results page was logical
- Task 2: 91% reported that results page was logical – more logical on second visit
- Task 3: 88% reported that results page was logical
- ‘Browse by topic’ page: meets customer’s needs. There were strong scores across all questions: layout, being uncluttered, and having an appealing design
Subsequent in-house user testing after all the issues with search had been rectified yielded much better results. Again, users generally searched (Task 1 – 100%, Task 2 – 37%, Task 3 – 100%) and where the users did not use search, they used the new feature “Recent search terms”. Task success was:
- Task 1 – 88%
- Task 2 – 100%
- Task 3 – 88%
The new site will be launched soon and one month after launch we will commence Stage 4 testing. We will continually test our new site to ensure that it meets users’ needs and that their satisfaction levels remain high.
Posted: January 16th, 2013 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Design, Search | No Comments »
In November 2012, the UK government launched their new www.gov.uk website. The design is clean and simple which we think is a good thing.
It is interesting to note that while the new UK website does have search functionality, browsing by category is emphasised as the way to find things.
The new gov.uk site
An earlier version of the site had one large search box very similar to the way we intend to offer search on vic.gov.au. Our research clearly shows that our users much prefer search over browse. Once our new website is launched, we will of course monitor how people use the site and it will be fascinating to see if navigation preferences identified during testing remain the same on the live site.
We are very confident that people are going to love our new search. Search results will be delivered in clearly marked categories and will come from a range of key repositories.
An example search results screen from the new vic.gov.au site - searching for accident compensation
Initial testing has shown that the search results are comprehensive, relevant and offer a surprising choice to the user. For example, you might be searching for “accident compensation”. As well as the standard link for the relevant website about accident compensation, vic.gov.au search will also display contact information for the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (Department of Treasury and Finance) , Medical Panels (Department of Treasury and Finance) and the Department of Treasury and Finance). They will also see results for publications (such as legislation) available from the Victorian Government Bookshop relating to accident compensation. The search results are clearly grouped by category e.g. Links, Contacts & Services, Bookshop.
If you carry out this same search in Google, the search results are polluted with ads. Also relevant Victorian Government websites are mixed in with other jurisdictions.
The following article asked the key question about the UK website – Can the government run one decent and cost-effective website, which gives customers speedy access to vital information and services?
With the redevelopment of vic.gov.au, we can answer “Yes” about our new site. We are using responsive design, an open-source Content Management System and project managing the redevelopment ourselves. The site has been designed with the citizen in mind and users have been consulted all along the way. Our powerful new search will provide a comprehensive and rich result set to the user. We want our users to be satisfied to the point where they will bookmark our site and return to it again and again.
vic.gov.au will provide a simple and smart solution for accessing Victorian Government information and services.
Posted: November 26th, 2012 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Design | No Comments »
Presentations to the Victoria Online Seminar Series, Thursday 22 November 2012. Visit the eGovernment Resource Centre.
With increasing amounts of web traffic coming from a wide variety of devices, it can be daunting to try to develop for every possible platform. Responsive web design allows websites to keep a consistent appearance across desktop and mobile devices whilst prioritising the most important information. Is it suitable for your web project? This session will present two case studies in responsive design: EPA Victoria and the soon-to-be-launched redesign of www.vic.gov.au.
1. Daniel McLeod ( EPA Victoria) and George Katsaras (Reactive)
2. Vanessa Scott (Department of Business and Innovation) and Oliver Newbery (Webplace)
Posted: August 28th, 2012 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Social media | 2 Comments »
Twitter is rapidly becoming a big part of how we share information with each other. There are currently about 145 twitter accounts across the Victorian Government so that’s a lot of conversation happening.
We figure it will be useful to get a sense of what is being said across government right at the time you are visiting vic.gov.au. So a new feature on the home page of the new site will be to display in real time what dialogue government is having via Twitter – we will provide a feed that aggregates all Victorian Government twitter accounts in the new “What government is saying” section.
Posted: August 1st, 2012 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Design | No Comments »
One of the new features on the upcoming redeveloped vic.gov.au will be a showcase of mobile apps developed by the Victorian Government. We want to make it easier for you to explore the range of mobile services being offered. You will be able to search for apps that you want and click straight through to where you can download them from.
Our home page will feature a selection of new and popular mobile apps where you will be able to scroll through images and a description of selected apps.
Currently, there are nearly 40 mobile apps across Victorian Government, but this will continue to grow. All of the apps are available for iPhone, and there are many Android apps available as well.
Finally, we know there are useful government apps from other jurisdictions so we also include a listing of local and federal government mobile apps.
Posted: July 5th, 2012 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Design, Research | 1 Comment »
In November 2011, the results came in for Stage 2 of our user testing. We were eagerly anticipating these results because our two proposed designs for the home page and search results page were going to be under scrutiny. Several scenarios were possible – either one design would be the clear favourite, both designs would be equally favoured; or people would like neither design and we would be back to the drawing board.
So what happened? Both home pages were well received, yet there was no one clear preference. 77% liked the Home page 1 design (faceted search where popular services are displayed and have a dedicated search tool) and 79% liked the Home page 2 design (one large search box).
Design 1 - faceted search
Design 2 - single search
Compared to Stage 1 testing (which looked at the current version of vic.gov.au) where the overall satisfaction was 57%, this is a clear improvement. Key findings from Stage 1 highlighted that end users had difficulty knowing where to start to find information on our current home page – and this is the key difference. Both of the proposed designs offered the users a clear starting point to find information and clear navigation.
Testing slightly differed to Stage 1 due to the fact that a functional website was not available. The number of tasks were reduced as users did not have a functional website and were shown the alternative design at the end of their tasks. For testing, html pages were created for each of the proposed designs for the home page and corresponding search results pages. This would results in users using their mouse to indicate where they would start on the home page to find the information but not actually completing the task. The percentages indicate the high confidence and satisfaction (Home page 1, Home page 2).
This second round of testing also set some tasks for users to achieve, though the number of tasks was lower as a full website using the new design was not available yet. Overall results and satisfaction for the tasks also scored well:
1. Click where you would start to find the jobs home page for the Department of Health. (66%, 78% confidence and satisfaction)
2. Click on the section of the page that you would normally click, if you were looking to find information on the Great Victorian Bike Ride. (82%, 80% confidence and satisfaction)
3. Click on the section of the page that you would normally click, if you were looking to find a phone number for the food safety hotline. (83%, 80% confidence and satisfaction)
After careful analysis of the results, we have chosen the design with the one large search box. The single search box does not require people to identify what type of information they are searching for, or where it comes from, yet the search will be very sophisticated and produce results from five different repositories of data. Our rationale for this choice is:
- It answers the biggest perceived problem from the first round of testing which was “ I don’t know where to start”
- People told us they really liked the clarity and simplicity of the uncluttered page
- While the faceted search works well now as a design, as new services become available we could easily fall into the trap of creating a cluttered home page again.
So this is the road we are heading down – we look forward to Stage 3 testing which will include some functional wire-frames of the new design.
Posted: May 28th, 2012 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Analytics, Design | No Comments »
Mobile traffic to vic.gov.au has increased dramatically over the past two years. These days we average 14% of all visits to the site from mobile devices whereas last year that figure was 10% and only two years ago it was 4%. (Source: Google Analytics).
Clearly our new site will need to be optimised for mobile. And we have factored that into the planning for the redevelopment. The new site will work with responsive design, meaning that different styles will be applied depending on the device you use to visit the site. The idea is to give you the best experience using the site no matter whether you are using your desktop computer, your tablet or your phone.
In the meantime, given the rapid rise in mobile usage we decided we had better get a mobile version happening straight away, rather than wait for the launch of the new site. So we have developed a mobile version of the current site. If you access www.vic.gov.au from a mobile phone, you will automatically be redirected to the mobile site at m.vic.gov.au.
Posted: May 14th, 2012 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Research | No Comments »
Before we began the redevelopment work on vic.gov.au we conducted our Stage 1 testing. In August 2011, the results came in and we were really happy to be able to establish a performance and satisfaction benchmark.
Five tasks were chosen to test how easily (or not) people could find information on vic.gov.au. The tasks deliberately focused on different sub-sections of our site (eg. catalogued links, Contacts & Services Directory, Events Calendar, etc).
The five tasks were:
1. Find the State Revenue Office website, then locate the page that provides overview information on unclaimed monies.
2. Find the jobs home page for the Department of Health.
3. Find the email address for the Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services.
4. Find the phone number for the food safety hotline – a service offered by the Victorian State Government.
5. Find the start date and contact phone number for the Australian Plants Expo – an event held in Eltham, Victoria.
The results for each task were:
1. 29.6% task score / 52% satisfaction
2. 57.1% task score / 69% satisfaction
3. 54.3% task score / 55% satisfaction
4. 73.4% task score / 68% satisfaction
5. 70.1% task score / 67% satisfaction
The task percentage combines scores for effectiveness and efficiency in completing the task.
The satisfaction percentage indicates the participants’ level of satisfaction that they had successfully completed the task and how they felt about using the site while attempting the tasks.
The overall score was 56.9% (55.5% Effectiveness; 54.4% Efficiency; 62.2% Satisfaction). Pretty low you might say – and we agree. This just proved to us that our site needs improvement.
The key issue for many study participants was not knowing where to start on the home page to find information. Participants overwhelmingly used the search box rather than the browse options, which came as no surprise to us given the amount of traffic that arrives at the site from search engines (85%). Stay tuned for a new blog post where we will share how we address this preference for search in the design and functionality for the redeveloped site.
Posted: April 20th, 2012 | Author: Vanessa | Filed under: Design, Research | No Comments »
As part of the vic.gov.au redevelopment, it has always been important to us that our new site functions the way that you, our visitors, want and need. So therefore quality user and behaviour research and performance metrics is essential to help us make the big implementation decisions.
Our research is being conducted in four stages. We’ve already completed stages 1 and 2 and will be sharing the results of the testing in later posts. Here’s an overview of the approach.
Data is captured using task-based scenarios with remote tracking of behaviour with testers using their own computers in their own homes. The software used for testing has the ability to capture all clicked links, searches, websites visited, time on task etc. Open-ended questions are also asked pre and post-survey to get some qualitative feedback and also give testers the opportunity to provide further comment (this is where you hear the interesting stuff!).
- Stage 1 measured the effectiveness, efficiency of the current site and people’s satisfaction with it. This established a benchmark for ongoing performance analysis.
- Stage 2 tested two alternative versions of a new home page and search results page.
- Stage 3 will test some functioning versions of the new design and features.
- Finally, Stage 4 will set a new benchmark by testing the redeveloped website after launch.
Here’s a sneak preview of what we learnt from Stage 1 testing:
An overall performance score of 57% highlights room for improvement in meeting user needs. Many users could not find a clear starting point.