Last fall some of the staff in Payroll came to observe the usability study that we did for the Employment site. After that experience, they decided that they wanted to do the same so that they could improve their site. We put them on our schedule, and when the time came, asked them to identify tasks that they wanted users to complete on their website.
As part of our preparation for the test, we turn those tasks into “scenarios” — stories that we’ll have the testers work through. We run those scenarios ourselves to make sure they can be done. After all, we don’t want to waste anyone’s time! We discovered very quickly that many of the tasks were either unreasonably difficult or impossible to accomplish.
Since we had the time with Payroll staff blocked out, we cancelled the testing and instead went through the documents that we showed at the last user’s group:
- A worksheet to identify audiences, their goals, your goals, and what needs to be done to make the site meet those goals.
- A content inventory, a spreadsheet where you list out all the pages on the existing website.
We spent about three hours answering those questions, comparing the answers to what was on the site, and figuring out what pages needed to be on the site, and what information needed to be on which page. We actually left the home page for last.
We ended up questioning some of our own assumptions: initially everyone had thought there would be two separate sites, one for payroll and one for benefits. But the audiences were similar and the number of pages wasn’t that large, so we just split them out in the site’s left-hand navigation. We left that day with an agreement about who would work on which pieces.
After the meeting, Susan added some more of the Payroll staff as CMS users and I created a new site with the pages that we’d identified in the meeting. Then they copied or wrote new content on those page. At the end, they wrote a brief introduction and created a news section for the home page. A few weeks later we were able to launch the new site.
Now their site is easier to scan for accurate and useful information. It’s organized and written with their audiences in mind, which should mean that you spend less time doing what you need to get benefits and get paid.