As part of the work we’re doing on the new website, we’re testing the beta pages with our users. During this testing, we’ve seen some unexpected behaviour from users.
We used an open card sort for this research. In an open card sort, participants organise content into categories that make sense to them and then label the groupings. We created cards based on potential content that could be on a Member’s page.
We used an online tool to do the card sort which was sent to the participants via Facebook and Twitter and on the get involved section of the current website. In two weeks, nearly 200 people completed the card sort and grouped the cards into three categories:
- MPs and Lords
To validate these findings, we used the structure above to create a ‘tree test.’ A tree test is a technique used to measure how well users can find content using a simplified version of the site structure. It means that testing can be done quickly without having to make anything.
We were encouraged by the number of participants that had completed the card sort so we created a tree test based on the existing beta navigation. We then sent this round to participants using the same channels as before. We were delighted that after one week over 400 people had completed the tree test.
What we found
In the current structure of the beta site, MPs and Lords are separate sections accessible from the homepage. However, we mentioned earlier that users grouped MPs and Lords together so we need to think about how this content is presented on the homepage.
A lot of users were trying to find their constituency through the MPs link instead of the constituencies link. It was unclear if this was due to the design of the beta pages, or if users only did this under test conditions. This made us realise that more research about how users expect to navigate these pages is required.
Some participants went to the Parties pages to find the issues in which a Lord is interested. Users might be expecting a Member’s interests to be partisan, therefore we should consider this in the design of the Parties homepage.
Some participants went through the MPs section to find a former MP of a constituency even though the only route at the moment is through the constituency section. This suggests an opportunity to link to former MPs from the MPs homepage.
Some participants went to the Parties section to find a Member's current and previous political party membership. This may support the need for a Parties home page.
Heightened interest in politics
The user research team are really pleased that by working with the content team, we've heard from many potential users of our new website and they've given us food for thought. We also want to capitalise on the heightened public interest in politics due to the general election.
Many thanks to those who participated in our research. We hope to use this method again in future to get user feedback on other products and services that PDS is working on.
Read more posts about the work we're doing to improve parliament.uk.