Website information architecture
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) are undergoing a website re-design and Smarter Digital Services (SDS) were asked to assist with some early discovery work around navigation and menu structures. They wanted to analyse users’ behaviour in grouping and labelling information in order to define an overall site framework.
The project involved 3 key areas of study:
- Running a First Click Analysis study
- Running a Card Sort study
- Running a Menu Hierarchy study
SDS used a set of digital tools to create the studies and TWBC recruited users via their social media channels and directly from their TWBC website.
First Click Analysis
The First Click Analysis allowed SDS to quickly identify customers’ first movements when visiting the prototype homepage. The information gained gave TWBC valuable information about user behaviour around usage of the search box, menu and linked text areas. When asked a simple query, eg. ‘You have received your council tax bill and want to pay your council tax online. How will you do this on our website?’, users were less inclined to use the menu or search box and more inclined to click on the top-level wording for this service.
From this example, we can see that users were more inclined to click on the text within the content block which mentioned Council Tax rather than searching using the search box. Several also expected the Council Tax heading to be a link.
However, when asked a more complex question not necessarily covered in the text links, it was interesting to see how many users then went to the menu or search box to find this information, eg. ‘The bus shelter in your street has had its glass smashed and glass is all over the road and pavement. It looks dangerous and you think you need to tell the council. How will you do this on our website?’
The result of this study showed how the search box immediately became pivotal to users finding the information they needed. Both the search box and menu attracted a higher percentage of users.
Following on from this, TWBC wanted to determine whether a publishing platform style of website was the right strategy, breaking away from the traditional siloed service led structure. They were interested to see whether users were able to distinguish between transactions and information and were asked to group a series of transactions and information into two columns and label the columns. The results made interesting reading.
6 out of 10 users were able to group the items into two columns and give them columns names such as Application and Questions, Do something and Find information, Action and Research, etc. This gave the TWBC team confidence in the desired approach to the website framework being based on a Transaction v Information model.
Menu hierarchy study
Finally, a tree sort analysis gave an insight into evaluating the findability of content on the website. Users were asked a range of scenarios and were presented with some mocked up menus to see which routes they would take to find that information eg. ‘Where would you apply for a licence to carry out acupuncture, tattooing or piercing?’
The results were collated into some visual diagrams (as well as more detailed data analysis) to represent people’s flow to the desired content.
The findings on the visual showed how most users took the route to Licensing through Business. Some however thought this might be an environmental issue and several also elected to make contact with the council through the customer services channel which would effectively be avoidable contact.
Using this analysis TWBC were able to progress to the next stage of developing the full website structure which will then go on to inform the design and layout of pages.
If any of our partners are starting out on their website redesign journey, SDS can assist with this initial discovery work to build typical customer journeys using a variety of scenarios. Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more about this project.