Sort our site: help make poole.gov.uk easier to use

Card sort_Biscuits

What’s your favourite biscuit?

Is it a custard cream? Bourbon or jammy dodger? To dunk or not to dunk? And does a Jaffa Cake count?

So many questions, so many choices.

On the homepage of our current website www.poole.gov.uk you also have many choices: use the search; top navigation; category links on the left; top tasks; service links; A to Z…

Surely it shouldn’t be so difficult to find what you are looking for?

We agree. That’s why we really want to ensure that navigating around our site is both simple and intuitive.

We want to use the most appropriate language and understand how pages fit in to one another to create a flow that feels natural.

That’s where you come in.

We want you to spare some time to help us sort some information into categories and a structure.

We have contracted The Insight Lab to work with us on this and they have created an online ‘card sorting’ exercise.

Card sorting

In our online card sorting exercise, we want you to put selected content into topics or categories that make sense to you.

Card sorting will help us identify your expectations and understanding of our services.

Specifically it will inform:

• how we build the structure of our website
• how we design our homepage
• how we label categories and navigation as simply as possible.

Gaining input and feedback from people like you is vital.

This is a quick task that we hope you will find interesting – it should take you no longer than 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

CardSort_Blog_Button
(And mine’s a dark chocolate digestive please)

Why accessibility is important to us

My name is Alexander Hearn and I’m the UX and Design Lead for the poole.gov.uk redesign project.

For me, designing with accessibility in mind isn’t just about ensuring people with disabilities can access our site.

There are many more benefits that can improve the user experience and reduce costs simply by:

  • making things easier to find
  • removing the clutter
  • having content that is easier to understand
  • ensuring the site works for all devices and browsers.

This means that, regardless of ability, everyone can navigate it, understand it, and use it successfully.

What we have done so far

We have done a lot of research into how we can make the new poole.gov.uk accessible to as many people as possible.

The most important lessons that we have learnt are:

  • we should always start with accessibility, it can’t be an afterthought
  • we need to understand how real people with disabilities use our site
  • we should be working with local charities such as Dorset Blind Association
  • we should make sure we choose the appropriate formats for documents
  • we need to understand how important visual design is, for example; font, colour contrast, buttons, etc.

Simple eh?… well it’s all well and good making sure we tick the right accessibility boxes. We have standards provided by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 which we can follow to make sure our site is compliant.

However, this only gives us so much. We need to understand how real people use our site.

User testing for accessibility

Testing with actual users (both able-bodied and disabled) will help us identify user needs and help us focus on the right areas.

This is where you can get involved.

In particular we are looking for:

  • blind/partially sighted, screen-reader users
  • screen magnification users
  • deaf British Sign Language users
  • keyboard-only users
  • speech-recognition software users
  • users with dyslexia
  • users with Aspergers or autism.

If you want to help us test our site, please email us at webmaster@poole.gov.uk.

Alexander Hearn, UX and Design Lead

Improving the way you use Poole.gov.uk

You’ve probably used Poole.gov.uk to find information or a service over the past few years. We know the journey to that information or service isn’t as good as it could be; we know it’s not responsive; we know it isn’t always straightforward.

Here at the Borough of Poole we’re constantly striving to improve our online services for you. We want to make our services so good that you choose to use them. To do this, we’re starting a new project: the redesign of Poole.gov.uk.

Redesigning Poole.gov.uk

As more of you are accessing our website using a mobile or tablet, we are creating a single version of our site that adapts to the device accessing it (this is commonly known as responsive web design). In other words, whether you view our site on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, you are accessing the same content, formatted for your device.

However, it’s not just about how the site will work but the content that is on it. We will be looking at improving the quality of the content by writing it in a way that is easier to read and understand.

All about the user

We’ll be starting with real user needs and then designing online services which meet them.

We intend to identify and analyse audiences on our existing site, so that we can build a site based on the data we already have.

But data can only tell us so much…

We want you to get involved in the creation of great online services for the council by;

  • sending ideas about how we can improve
  • trying out the services we build
  • letting us know what you think we could do better.

How you can get involved

This blog is one of many ways that we will communicate what we are doing, how we are doing it and what you can do to help us build the best website we can.

We will also be using Twitter, Facebook and our newsletter service ’email me’ to keep you up to date with our progress. We also intend to get out and meet users of the site to really understand user needs.

We have a great team behind the project and we will be working with expert external partners too.

The best way to keep up to date with progress on Digital Poole is by subscribing to this blog by email (just click the ‘follow’ button at the bottom right of this page).

Matt Louis, Project Lead and Senior Digital Services Officer