https://blog-digitalparliament.scot/how-were-improving-our-new-beta-website

How we’re improving our new beta website

This blog was written by Anne Walker

Before we launch anything new, we bring best practice to our designs and test them with a range of different people. But we know that once we make something live, there will be lots more to learn from how people actually use the new thing and from the feedback that people give us about using it.

That’s what happened with our beta website after it went live on 29 February 2019 .

Checking performance and feedback

To check how the beta website is working in practice, we:

  • give a feedback option on each page
  • have a survey for users who are happy to give more detailed feedback
  • test to check how each part of it works with users
  • check data on how people interact with the site
This image shows the onpage feedback functionality on the beta website. On each page this asks 'was this page helpfuk' with 'yes', 'no' or 'yes,but' options.
The on-page feedback section that's on every page of the beta site looks like this at the bottom of the screen.

Those sources of evidence have led us to make changes to our:

  • homepage
  • on page feedback form

Homepage design issues

If you land on a homepage, you want to see enough to anticipate your needs without scrolling further down the page. Anything ‘below the fold’, as it’s charmingly known from newspaper days, can get lost or feel frustratingly hidden.

Your feedback via the ‘on-page’ feedback section and the survey meant we prioritised getting the homepage tweaked to make it more user friendly.

Your feedback suggested we should:

  • reduce the size of the images
  • put more information above the fold
  • make the text smaller – we can’t do this for accessibility reasons

We’ve  gone from:

This image shows the original beta site homepage, where more content sat under the fold

To:

This image shows the beta homepage after improvements were made to reduce the size of the images and put more information above the fold

As more content is added to the beta site, we’ll continue to redesign and test the homepage to make sure users are finding what they need to easily.

The latest feedback supports our changes

One month after the beta website had gone live, and  before we’d changed the homepage design, we had:

  • 56 people who said ‘yes’, the homepage was helpful
  • 21 people who said either ‘yes, but’ or ‘no’ to the same question

This means  27% of users who commented wanted to see improvements to the homepage.

After more than 3 months,  we’ve had:

  • 113 people who said ‘yes’, the homepage was helpful
  • 27 people who said either ‘yes, but’ or ‘no’ to the same question

This means we’ve reduced that to 19%, and we’ll keep listening to feedback to continue to make improvements.

Total since launch                                    Latest data
(28 Feb to 28 Mar 2019)                     (28 Feb to 7 Jun 2019)

Image shows two graphs, comparing feedback captured three months apart. Overall, we reduced the amount of users who wanted to see improvements by 19% in 3 months

Feedback form

We’ve also improved the feedback form so it’s easier to engage with, but we know there are further improvements to make on this for mobile users who have described it as ‘in the way’.

Next improvements

With a small team, we’re always trying to balance delivering new work with improving  what we have on the beta website. While we have some ideas for design tweaks and have done some usability testing on the ideas for the following pages, we have further testing to do to ensure they provide a better user experience:

Both changes, if we go ahead with them after testing, will improve how the information on these pages is displayed.

We also have some ideas for improving search for our users, but those still need to be tested.

Contact us

We cannot make improvements without our users and our stakeholders. We have thick skins and want to hear constructive feedback so we can continue to improve the website for our users.  

If there’s something you think could be improved, please contact us with your comments or suggestions at webproject@parliament.scot.