Rethinking the design of a London Council’s website homepage.
The client is a London Council serving over 200,000 residents and over 4,000 staff, working flexibly over a number of locations.
The local authority is ambitious and aspires to be a digitally leading council with one front door; the website. They want to be the best connected authority in the UK and to provide the best customer experience for their users, making it as easy as possible to access local services.
The re-development of the website has been acknowledged and accepted as an activity the Council will need to invest in. They wanted to investigate design ideas that would fundamentally improve the way community users interact with the Council online, starting with the Homepage.
They chose a Lightning Sprint. In just five days, we needed to put community users at the heart of a rapid approach to designing and prototyping a new digital footprint.
Day 1 | Understand
Day 1 was about getting to know the sprint team, and discussing the challenges and functionality around using the current website homepage. We used this to set a sprint goal to focus our activities for the next five days.
“The council website is certainly not meeting the council’s goal/vision“
By the end of the day, we had a clear view of the website challenges, including: excess clutter, inconsistent information and a layout which was not intuitive or easy to navigate.
Day 2 | Sketch
The aim of Day 2 was to encourage creative problem solving by introducing ‘blue sky’ thinking around how the website challenges could be tackled. We streamlined the ideas through rounds of sketching them into workable solutions for a new and improved homepage.
“We could make it a site that you would WANT to bookmark“
We ended the day with multiple creative sketches for a new homepage layout, all focused on a more user-centric interface and content strategy.
Day 3 | Decide
Day 3 kicked off by presenting, discussing and voting on the different homepage sketches drawn up on Day 2. The remainder of the day was dedicated to developing these sketches into a storyboard base for prototyping.
“We want a website that knows you like a friend”
Notably, the storyboarding branched off in two distinct directions: one homepage focused on content and the other on services. These different concepts formed the basis for our prototyping strategy.
Day 4 | Prototype
The goal of Day 4 was to translate the storyboard into a low-fi prototype to be tested on Day 5 with users. We developed two prototypes, each based on one of the two storyboard concepts which evolved the day before.
“It’s already looking awesome”
The first prototype was a more minimalist look and feel, which focused on user access to council services. The second highlighted council news, events and campaigns content, in familiar Council design.
Day 5 | Validate
To test and validate the prototyped solutions, user testing was conducted on Day 5 to obtain valuable feedback from the primary users of the system. We conducted testing with both chosen users and via guerrilla research, with the aim of getting varied feedback.
“Quick links to services in Prototype 1 puts me on the exact road I want to be on“
Feedback suggested that the current website was dated, and that Prototype 1 was generally more popular with users in terms of design and service/media structure.
“We watched in awe as Rainmaker worked on individual slides simultaneously in Google Docs today. As far as being a professional spectator goes this was a Superbowl moment. Public sector digital work as it should be.”
Council Digital Leader
Prototype 1: Service focused
Users wanting access to Council services. Lively and colourful look and feel. Users preferred design & structure.
Prototype 2: Media focused
Utilised existing branding. Content focused on Council news, events & campaigns. Users disliked content & structure.
Two prototypes in just 5 days.
The user-led approach designed, prioritised features, built and tested two different prototypes in just 5 days, showcasing alternative designs and content structures, reinforcing ease of use, and which worked in the same way for all services.
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