Implementation of a communication strategy for a public website of the Belgian federal government

The problem

The need to upgrade from Drupal 7 to 9 provided an opportunity to implement a new communication strategy that is part of a digital first government strategy. The communication strategy was the first step towards improving their digital communication and services.

Role and responsibilities

UX Designer. I was responsible for the exploratory research, information architecture, concept design and functional analysis. My team consisted of a UX Architect, Project Manager, Functional Analyst, UI Designer, and a dedicated stakeholder team.

Communication strategy context

The communication strategy was done by another agency. They carried out research, such as stakeholder interviews, focus groups and a thorough analysis of the top tasks. With artefacts such as a channel strategy, communication strategy, goals, channels and key messages, all backed up by real user data, they gave us confidence and a clear picture of how and what was important in the federal partners’ communication and service.

Research

To fill in some gaps, we conducted exploratory research. We conducted competitive reviews of government platforms that are in line with this platform. In addition, I did in-depth interviews and qualitative usability tests based on the top task analysis to get a clear picture of users’ goals, context and behaviour. Furthermore, I tested the current information architecture with tree testing to collect data on findability of the content.

A participant trying to complete one of the tasks during a usability test.

Analysis

Once the research was done, I analysed the raw data from the usability test and tree test by using Miro as a tool to affinity diagram. The affinity diagram allowed me to group the data into phases to get a clear picture of the users’ pain points and behaviour during their journey. We chose to draw up an alignment diagram, such as a customer journey map of the interviews combined with user tests, and a slide deck of the results of the tree tests to discuss this with the stakeholders.

A Customer Journey Map as an alignment diagram to map out the painful journey of a user in each phase when trying to navigate on the as-is platform.

Design

Information architecture

With data from the communication strategy, interviews, user tests and a tree test, we had to develop a deeper understanding of the content itself. Therefore, I made a thorough content inventory in a spreadsheet of most content until I had a clear understanding of the size, content types and page layouts. The content inventory along with the first draft of an information architecture was presented to stakeholders to discuss our concept.

Screenshot of a Miro board. Here you can see an iterative process to align the existing content with the communication strategy and the approach to the top tasks.

Sketching screens and wireflows

After the general information architecture was approved we went to design our first flows and screens. To start with I designed ideal user flows for the ten top tasks to make the interaction flow as frictionless as possible. Furthermore, I sketched some quick and dirty basic screens to get a rough idea of the page layouts. Finally, we designed basic wire flows that shows the hierarchy, the user flows and how to get rid of duplicate content across different communication channels.

Screenshot of a Miro board. This shows one of the first drafts made on basis of the information architecture, user flows and sketches.

Prototype

I designed a medium fidelity prototype. This form of fidelity was exactly right for what we wanted to learn if we wanted to test our solution iteratively by users.

A screenshot of the prototype concept’s home page.

Testing

After the prototype was ready, we conducted another serie of qualitative usability tests with five participants to evaluate our new concept. The participants had to perform the same top tasks as in the usability tests during the exploration phase on the as-is website. Afterwards, we did some minor design changes based on the findings collected during the user tests.

A participants trying to complete a task on the new concept during one of the iterations.

How the solution solved the problem

For this department of the federal government, we made it possible to implement the communication strategy and created the possibility for some important channels to live on the main platform. Duplicated content was also greatly reduced, which significantly reduced the maintenance and time investment of keeping the platform up-to-date.

In addition, the user experience has been significantly improved. During the first user tests on the as-is website, nobody was able to complete half of the tasks successfully. In addition, everyone had given up at some point while performing a task. However, when testing the new concept, the time of the whole usability test ended three times faster, and everyone managed to finish all tasks successfully.

Challenges I faced

It was challenging to figure out how to implement the communication strategy, and all it’s channels and goals. Moreover, for budgetary reasons, I had to recruit friends and/or family to participate in these usability testing sessions. I was fortunate to be able to recruit a wide range of people who met the target group criteria.

What I learned and what I’d improve

This was my first major UX project. I learned too much to describe. Everything was done along the way. Thanks to the UX Architect who had more of a supporting role during the project, I was able to figure everything out myself and ask for feedback or input from him when needed. Thanks to this project, and the trust of the UX Architect, I was able to perform many methods and had to dig deep into reading material and theory to successfully complete this project.