Thinking like a Victorian

What struck me the most on my arrival to Melbourne (aside from candy being called lollies) was how much care has been taken to create positive experiences for residents of the city.

On my first ride on the Yarra Trams, I noticed posters that announce performance and highlight the previous month’s statistics for delivery and punctuality. When tram service was interrupted for White Night, guides in vests helped passengers understand their travel options. I learned that Yarra Trams also has a formal compensation code, which allows passengers to claim a refund when performance targets for punctuality and reliability are not met.

Beyond the trams I’ve seen many little things, like the placard on the bathroom wall at Federation Square which has a text message short code in case you wish to give feedback on cleanliness via your mobile phone.

All these examples signal to me that someone has thought about what it’s like to for a resident to navigate the city. Perhaps they imagined themselves as a tram passenger, and attempted to comprehend common commuter motivations and frustrations. This is a great first step to designing better services. For governments and large institutions, it’s a huge stride, and can take time. From what I’ve seen so far, Victoria is far along on that journey.

But assuming a citizen mindset is not a magical fix. Once you better understand and empathize with a citizen’s experience, there’s still the long path of how best to improve the service, and then the longer track to implement enhancements. It can take many iterations, with constant feedback from citizens, to make progress.

Along the way it can help to have a compass. I like Yarra Trams:

Our guiding principle for operating Melbourne’s tram network is to ‘Think Like a Passenger’ -Yarra Trams Customer Service Charter

Giselle is a user experience designer and 2014 Code for America fellow, working with the Victorian Government for six weeks, through a partnership with Code for Australia.


VicGovAu – 2014 in review

Happy new year to all our visitors. To start off the new year we thought we would give you a summary of 2014. Soon we’ll start blogging about some of the things we’ll be doing in 2015. home page home page

The website received 2,985,667 visits during 2014, with continued growth in mobile traffic which now makes up 31.76% (Mobile 20.12% and Tablet 11.64%). Changes in the location of the public holidays and daylight saving (now on reduced the overall visits to the site.

Early in the year we switched over from paid Google search to the free Google CSE search because we exceeded our search queries sooner than we expected making this an unsustainable option.

However, not all our users reply on search. 25% of our visitors still prefer to browse our topic taxonomy –

New aggregations were introduced to the site during 2014. They included:

New features to the site included the addition of site-wide “This page was useful/Not useful” – this has been very popular with our users.

We listen to what you tell us and some improvements have been made to the site:


Top 10 search terms:

  1. jobs
  2. job vacancies
  3. school zones
  4. public holidays
  5. sex offender registers
  6. land titles
  7. work experience
  8. minimum wage
  9. road closures
  10. 10. careers

Top 10 pages:

  1. Home page
  2. School holiday activities
  3. Grants Victoria
  4. Job vacancies
  5. Stamp duty & land tax
  6. Traffic & road alerts
  7. Building regulations & codes
  8. Daylight saving
  9. First home owners grant
  10. Bushfire & fire warnings

The most popular news item was VTAC Guide 2015.

Victorian Government Directory

The Victorian Government Directory received 520,975 visits in 2014. Usage peaked in December 2014 due to the change of Government and the announcement of the new Cabinet.

Top 10 pages

  1. Home page
  2. Department and Other Bodies
  3. Cabinet
  4. Parliament of Victoria
  5. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
  6. Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure
  7. Governor of Victoria
  8. A-Z of Government websites
  9. Courts and Tribunals
  10. Department of Justice

Events Calendar

The Events Calendar received 254,671 visits in 2014. The most popular event was ”The Boulevard Lights”. – are customers satisfied?

During June 2014 we conducted stage two of our website behavioural testing of customers using desktop computers to access the portal. This was part of our program of continuous benchmarking of user satisfaction with the site.

Study findings showed performance had improved from six months earlier.

90% said they would recommend this service to their family and friends – an increase from 85%.

84% were satisfied with their experience on the site.

88% found the site responded quickly to their search query and it was clear where to conduct a search on the site.

87% found the site responded accurately to their queries and successfully helped them to find the information that they needed.

85% found the navigation logical and their search results were relevant, easy to access and easy to understand.

About the study

The study participants comprised 151 Victorian adults over the age of 18 and excluded past participants of previous studies. There was an even gender split and the study was conducted between 29 May and 2 June 2014.

We used a behavioural study method which used scenario based remote user testing. Tests were conducted in the participant’s natural environment and automatically recorded their behaviour and captured their attitudes as they progressed through the test scenarios.

The objectives of the exercise were to

  • continuously follow and measure the impact any changes to the portal may have on the experience users have and the overall performance of the site.
  • understand the performance across effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with every iteration of the portal or different information seeking scenarios on the portal and where possible compare it with past experiences.
  • gain insights into user behaviour and obtain ideas on how to continuously improve the experience and discoverability of information and services to ensure growing usage of the site.

Victorian Government Publications can now be found on

The website recently released a new section called Publications due to the recent closure of the Victorian Government Bookshop. This section provides an extensive  list of online publications from across the Victorian Government – from Government Reports to the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) Study Designs. All publications can be downloaded or viewed from various Victorian Government departments and agency websites.

Each item listing contains a title and description for each publication. This is assigned against a publication type which also lists a sub-total of the number of publications included within each type.

Currently we have:

  • Brochure (24)
  • Guidelines (4)
  • Handbook (15)
  • Report (84)
  • Study Design (104)
  • Template (1)
  • Toolkit (13)
  • Victorian Maps (4)


By selecting one of these category types, you can narrow your display results to a specific subset.

The default listing for publications is alphabetical. You can filter by Publication Type, Subject Category or Department/Agency. The page also displays the three most recently added items.

You can also search within the Publications section to find specific items.

An RSS feed  is also available for regular updates to this section.

Listing additional online government publications within this section will continue as new ones are released. If you discover any relevant publications missing from here, please let us know; we welcome your feedback.


Online Government Services are now easier to find for Victorians

The website has just released a new section called Services Victoria. This section provides an extensive list of online government services from across the Victorian State Government – from renewing your driver’s licence to booking a camping site.

Services Victoria

Services Victoria


The criteria for inclusion in this section is that it must be a “doing thing” that is action oriented (and no that does not include downloading a pdf!).

Each online service listing contains an abstract describing each service. This is assigned against an action category which also lists a sub-total of the number of services included within it.




Currently we have:

  • Apply or Pay (100)
  • Book (13)
  • Change or Check (14)
  • Register (32)
  • Renew (9)
  • Report (24)

By selecting one of these categories, you can narrow your display results to a specific subset.

The default listing for Victorian Government departments and agency services is alphabetical. You can filter by Action category, Subject category or Department/Agency. The home page for this new section also displays the three most recently added items.

You can also search within the Services Victoria section to find specific Victorian Government services.

Listing additional government services within this section will continue as new services are brought online. If you discover relevant services are missing from here, please let us know; we welcome your feedback.


The website has published a new hotlines page. This page lists a range of hotlines from various Victorian Government departments and agencies. To access the page, click on the ‘Hotlines’ link in the large footer. The hotlines are listed alphabetically by title. Each column can be sorted by clicking on the arrow on the column heading (Title, Department or Phone). On your smartphone, you can call the hotline directly.


Recent site changes on

You may have noticed some subtle changes on the website:

  • Victorian Government text in header – we have made it obvious for the user that they have reached the Victorian Government website;
  • Default text in search box – the text now disappears when a user starts entering a search term;
  • Removal of Browse button – we had a ‘Browse’ button underneath our large search box. Analysis highlighted that not many users clicked on this button. Search is always the winner and it’s possible that users may not know what ‘Browse’ actually means. Ongoing analysis will reveal whether we have made the right decision;
  • Widgets – a new feature. We are now highlighting the ‘Victorian Government Careers’ widget as well as linking to a new widget section where other widgets are listed.
  • Fat footer – added a new fat footer to ease navigation to popular content as well as previous browse topics.

Victorian Government home page


We have added a new section on the website – Consultations. All consultations from Victorian Government departments and agencies are listed alphabetically. You can also filter by Category, Status or Department/Agency. The page also displays the 3 recently added items. You can also search using the Consultations search box to narrow down your search.

Consultations -