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Citizens ‘wish list’ and frustrations with local government websites (Part 2)

This user insight comes from the user research conducted for London Borough of Camden in the UK. You can visit the website redesign project development site here.

View full post here.
  • Wanted to order lid for bin online but there wasn’t any for lids – User’s bin lid was stolen during the snow, possibly due to people stealing the lids to slide through the snow. Wanted to order the lid online but it was not possible. Therefore had to call to explain that she didn’t want to order the whole bin, but only the lid.
  • Felt the website was information heavy for families but for childless couples or single individuals, it was limited – Interesting insight to how single or childless felt there wasn’t particularly relevant to their needs on the website because they did not need the schools, children and etc information. Maybe we should consider a section where this particular group of residents services to be highlighted.
  • Desire to be digitally engaged with council – It seemed that particular segments of users want to be digitally engage with their council but not been clearly guided on how to do that on the website. This might mean that the council and democracy section does appeal to them or give the necessary tools to get involved.
  • Desire to volunteer within their local area – There is also a limited or unclear online resource to look for volunteering opportunities, which also shows they are interested to be involved but yet again, the website does not engage with the activities that they may be interested in.
  • Most used services that causes frustrations – Users from this category mostly used these online services; environmental services for the bins, streets, planning periodic service, the library and building control. And most times would find the process quite frustrating due to lack of notification of progress.
  • Online licence application – For license application (letter to oppose & licensing list), you must make application by paper and can’t do it online.
  • Unable to find information online – Customers mostly found they would resort to calling after having an unpleasant experience with the website. This mostly happens when they can’t find the information they are looking for.
  • Unrelated headings – Headings and subheadings for categories on website is confusing and somewhat unrelated to the information being searched for.
  • Services with most problems online – Most when asked about their general experience with the website, they refer to services such as
  1. Licensing issues
  2. Planning permissions – Some of the residents mentioned they couldn’t find the planning application on the website.
  3. Housing repairs and
  4. Recycling – Some of the residents mentioned that they would use the website for finding out when to put out the recycling and not for news.
  • Preference of using the search box – Users found that they couldn’t find a particular service such as building control and rather have a search box to go directly to the information needed. This is mostly down to the unrelated categories in their minds. They also sometimes find the A-Z not useful either.
  • Emergency services (24/7 contact details) – There was also a complaint regarding certain services which needed 24/7 attention such as complains about noise. We tried to search for the number and the number supplied was only for office times only. No 24-hour number was supplied via the website. The user had to refer to Camden magazine to get the 24-hour contact number. This causes a lot of frustration for users when using the website when they need it. It lessens their level of confidence to use the website again in case of emergencies.
  • Limited use of council services – Some users indicated that if you don’t use the housing or education services, their usage of the council website and services is limited. For someone who doesn’t use many of the council services, this user find the whole process of calling polite and preferable but still didn’t get an answer. Therefore thee feel that if a person can’t help them, how could a website help him.
  • Wanting more interaction with officers online – They want the ability to make objections online and questions to officer about general interest.
  • Events request – They also wanted to know more about events happening on the website.

Obviously in a project of this scale, we are trying our best to ensure that our user experience is a pleasant and satisfying one. And in order to do that we are calling out Camden residents through various channels to get involved in our usability testings and research. We even recently launched a development site which you can visit here.

Here is a some snapshot of the newly launched development site front page.

  1. Front page The front page reflects on the content of the website with carousel rotating on the main content.
  2. Camden Website Redesign Project Blog This blog will talk about the projects progress, some lessons learnt, related topics in regards to the website redesign and the challenges we’ve faced throughout the project. We hope to get feedback from people to ensure we are on the right track.
  3. Featured interviews with experts and camden staff involved in the project We’re also featuring interviews with either experts or our own staff to talk about topics that matter to this project to further inform people on the project progress.
  4. Camden’s Project Stages This section was created as a one-stop-shop or summary where readers can find consolidated blog posts in the form of a PDF for easy reading.
  5. We encourage Camden residents and university students to volunteer with our project One of our main aims is to encourage more people to get involved in the project while we are building the website. Usability testings will ensure that the website satisfies every user experience. We also encourage students to get involved for their research projects.
  6. The project website includes links to websites and articles that we feel can help educate people on website development We wanted this website to not only be about this project itself but also a place where people can come and learn about website development.

Hope this was useful!!!


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