23 May 2013
Thirty members of the public have been taking part in exercises this week to test the usability of this website. The volunteers, who were selected to represent a cross-section of ages, ability and lifestyles, each took part in a 45-minute test of the site.
They were asked to find specific information, while providing feedback on how easy the pages were to find.
This testing is one of the first steps in a project to improve the States website. The Web Services manager, Marcus Ferbrache, explained “We want to make it easier for our customers to deal with government and at the same time improve the efficiency of departments.
"Making the website simpler and more convenient to use will encourage people to use it, rather than telephoning or visiting the department in person.”
The research was conducted at the facilities of a local marketing research company, 4Insight. The company’s offices are equipped with a purpose-built studio where the volunteers use the website in one room while being observed from another room through a one-way mirror. Specialist eye-tracking equipment is used to record where the user is looking on the computer screen, and each exercise is video-recorded for later analysis.
The States web team will use the feedback to help them redesign the site. Internet Manager, Geraldine Cardwell, said “It is a real challenge to organise all the information on gov.je so anything can be found with just a few clicks.
"There is no better way to test our page layouts than to watch our customers navigate the site in a lab environment like this. What we’ve learnt about how people go about finding things has surprised us and we are keen to make improvements.
“One surprising find was that people did not realise the words under the red headings on the home page were links. They take people directly to the most popular content on the site such as term dates, Bellozanne opening hours, and job vacancies. We need to fix this so our customers can complete tasks more quickly.”
Public sector reform
The Director of Information Services, Neil Wells, said that delivering an improved website is a key part of the Public Sector Reform programme.
“We want to provide online forms for most government services, we want to take payments online and to enable islanders to log on to see the information that departments hold about them. But before we add these functions, the information already there needs to be as straightforward as possible to use.”
This week a tender process has begun to find a company to develop a detailed business model, business case and implementation plan for e-government.
- customers did not notice key information in banners at the top of the page, or in the right hand grey modules
- some of the language used was unfamiliar, or appeared not to be relevant, to customers who would have found the information relevant if they had understood it
- some information was not where customers expected it to be
- some customers did not scroll down long pages so they missed information that was ‘below the fold’
- customers did not know that clicking the States logo would take them back to the home page
- customers were surprised to find they could buy concert tickets online or register for job notifications
- customers did not realise that they could resize the font by clicking the ‘AAA’ links in the top right hand corner of every page
- in many cases people said if they couldn’t find the information they would ring the department instead
If you want to help improve the website, please send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org