During the week of January 15 to 19, 2018 we met individually with 10 people outside of government to review a private beta version of the new Yukon.ca website. This particular group of participants included people who came from a variety of backgrounds, abilities and professions, including those who are hearing impaired, visually impaired, non-verbal with autism, who are senior citizens and parents of young children.
The purpose of these research sessions was to ask people to compare the user experience of the private beta site to the current Government of Yukon website, and check to see if we are on the right path in regard to the new website's content strategy, visual design, information architecture, usability and accessibility.
Research sessions were run one-on-one, at the person's own computer or mobile phone and mainly at their place of work or somewhere neutral (that is, not at a government office). The new website was brought up on their device and we asked some prepared questions. Most of the conversation was informal and user-led so that we could learn about their attitudes, desires and experiences with the government. We wanted to get a deeper understanding of the citizens who come to our website
Some of the feedback gathered and identified below will be addressed in a later release of Yukon.ca. Other improvements will be made to the private beta version of the website we have now and will be part of the launch on February 19, 2018.
Significant quotes from participants
- I don't come to the government website to read news. I come to get things done. The current website is far too focused on the government's needs, not mine.
- On my phone, this new website feels very natural, especially its focus on tasks. When I'm on my phone, I'm less patient.
- Now that I've seen this new website, I don't want to have to go back to the current site. This new version is so much cleaner and simplified.
- The new website helps and guides me to where I want. It's very intuitive.
- This new site is so action oriented. Such a refreshing change from the current site.
- The icons and colours make me happy.
- The site is so clear and uncluttered. So much better than what you have today.
- I can tell the website is for me, for us; not for the government.
- If I knew that the government website looked and worked like this, I'd be much more inclined to use it rather than phoning around the government looking for someone who can help me.
- I don't want to have to understand how government works in order to use the website, I want it organized around how I think, like you've done.
- I like that I don't have to read through office jargon and government-speak to get to the information that I want.
- This doesn't feel like my typical experiences with Government of Yukon. It's so professional, modern and service-oriented. I can tell that you are trying to be better, to be more service-oriented.
- After being asked how they would describe the new website if it were a person, users suggested the terms: approachable, warm, inviting, modern and open.
User behaviours noted during research
- Upon starting, most participants went straight to Google to find what they want, rather than starting from the website (which is where they had to begin given that the site isn't yet publically indexed). This highlights how important our new authoritative landing page concept and focus on creating good content will be to the site's success.
- The larger default typeface size was appreciated and remarked upon by almost everyone, no matter their age or abilities.
- The simple, conversational tone of the content was noted by almost everyone. They really appreciated the clear, simple language of the content and navigation.
- Several people remarked on the prominence of search in the design and how useful that was to them. They also felt like the search results showed what they hoped to find, which boosted their confidence in the site.
- Several people indicated that they prefer being told about a PDF (description, file size) before they have to download it, especially on mobile phones or tablets. They felt having this intermediary step helped them decide what they wanted to do on a page, rather than being made to download a PDF because someone decided they should. This shows the importance of a document download screen, not just a link to a PDF.
- Some of the participants often make use of "assisted digital" services, meaning they get someone else to help them navigate and understand the website. These people liked that the website was very simple, obvious and clear so that information and concepts could be easily explained to them, rather the person helping also having to decipher terms and processes.
Problems identified by users or through observation
Based on our research, we identified 14 distinct changes we should make to the beta version of the website.
Some of these changes will be made prior to it going live while others have gone into our product backlog for future releases. Key examples include:
- Adding more labels and headings to page templates.
- Adding new visual elements to every screen so as to create more consistency across the site.
- Changing the titles of some labels and navigation items.
- Modifying how links look and behave in certain areas of the website.
- Tweaking the behaviour of various screen elements so as to be more natural and in-keeping with what users expect.
After the new website has gone live in a few weeks, we will monitor user feedback submission forms, report on web analytics trends and conduct additional user research. We will continue to improve the website based on these data points and inputs.