Case Studies

eForms User Testing

Medway Council asked the team to test a set of e-forms to see how easily members of the public could use them. The results were surprising...

Medway Council had begun looking at improving the reporting and requesting areas of its website with the design and development of a new set of e-forms that it was felt would improve online customer service, streamline back office processes and encourage channel shift.

A couple of weeks before the forms were due to launch, the project team were invited to conduct user testing on the new forms - our expectation was to uncover the odd niggle here and there and recommend solutions, which could be ironed out in time for launch.

The user testing was staged on a one-to-one basis with 6 Medway residents and took place at the Medway council offices at Gun Wharf. Each user was given three tasks to complete, including reporting issues with roads and pavements, reporting a missed bin and locating the bulky waste collection form.

Images were shown to the user, as opposed to written descriptions of scenarios, so as to not influence the user in what to search for and to let the user interpret the issue as they would naturally. User’s screens were recorded, with webcam and audio taped for later analysis.

The primary objective was to test the design and functionality of the e-forms, however exposing users to the initial part of the journey from the home page revealed further issues that weren’t expected to be encountered, but were just as revelatory.

After the user testing sessions, and with the deadline for launching the forms approaching, work on producing the reports commenced immediately, resulting in a turnaround of just four working days.

The two reports ('Footpaths and Roads' and 'Bulky/Missed Collections') were submitted to Medway and included; an analysis of the recorded experiences and issues encountered, as well as recommendations on solutions and graphical mock ups of redesign examples.

As a result of the report identifying some very clear flaws in usability and design , Medway made the decision to hold back on launching the forms until the issues identified had been addressed, with the focus shifting from getting them finished to getting them right. Priority was given to improving design and functionality with end-user input and the user experience being central.

Changes were also made elsewhere on the website, and throughout the various journeys, in order to make the forms easier to find.

Since the user testing, Medway have been enthused by the effectiveness of user-centric web design and put the wheels in motion to acquire user testing software in order to make user feedback and input a core practice in future.

Fiona Cobb, Web and Digital Communications Manage at Medway Council, reflects on the project:

The Smarter Digital Services team have been fundamental in enabling us to conduct user testing sessions on new online forms. They have produced valuable recommendations and wireframes to assist us with improving the forms to enable channel shift.

Medway have also been motivated to utilise the project team on a consultancy basis, regularly requesting feedback and input into ongoing developments.

Conducting user testing with actual residents has the power to bring to light issues that even the best designers in the world sometimes overlook. It can also help settle internal differences of opinion, provide clear reasoning for design decisions and uncover issues within the service that were previously overlooked.

The earlier in the process user testing of forms can be conducted, the less time will be wasted on rework.

The e-forms are still currently in development and are due to go live in the coming months.

Download Footpaths & Road Report here >>
Download Bulky/Missed Collection Report here >>

Download the Case Study here >>