https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2017/05/22/general-election/

What our users know about general elections

Election banner on homepage

We've created a general election hub on parliament.uk after the announcement of an election on 8 June. The Content Team, User Research Team and the parliament.uk Product Manager have shared what we've learned on general elections, our users and working with teams across Parliament.

Pulling together the content

When the election was announced we looked at how we could get users to register, vote and engage. We decided to build a hub for all the general election content we have on parliament.uk.

We started by asking teams across Parliament to pull together their election content. There was far more content than any of us had anticipated. We went through the content with each team and came up with a structure for the main areas.

We came up with eight areas:

  • how to register
  • how to vote
  • general election timetable
  • what is a general election
  • explore your constituency
  • what happened in 2015
  • teaching resources and history

When building the hub we soon realised that lots of content didn’t mean a better experience. We were overwhelmed with the volume which didn’t bode well for how our users might feel.

The time consuming part of the process was pulling out the essential information. In an ideal world we’d have time to start with research to help us build something to meet our users' needs. But that’s just one of the minor challenges thrown up with a snap election.

With the help of the User Research Team we’re refining as we go and learning a lot in the process. Hopefully next time round we can hit the ground running.

Testing with users

The snap election has given us the chance to explore what people expect from Parliament before and after an election. Collaborating with teams across Parliament to bring their content together for the hub gave us a good set of assumptions to test.

Working with the New Website Team, we drew up some plans for what we wanted to find out, and how the research could feed into the current website and the new website we're building. We discussed these ideas with the User Research Team and the next day we had a set of findings to improve our content.

What the data and research told us

Working with our Performance Analysts we set up heatmaps on the homepage and general election pages. We also looked at the search terms people were using on both internal and external search engines. This gave us lots of data, helping us analyse what we were offering and if there was anything missing.

We encountered some legacy issues with some Parliament sites being on different subdomains, which has implications on the quality of our tracking and our ability to access the data. As part of a wider initiative in Parliament, it highlighted the importance of sharing knowledge between different teams and working together.

The most striking insight is that people want to know what a general election is. We learned that people are not looking to learn how to vote or register to vote from Parliament. This challenges some of the priorities we’ve been given by the House of Commons.

We're going to build on our findings by using social media for insights on user behaviour. We didn’t explore it in this first round of research but will in the next round.

Take a look at the general election hub and let us know what you think in the comments below. 

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