https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2018/08/22/listening-to-what-our-users-tell-us/

Listening to what our users tell us

Since we made beta.parliament.uk publicly available, we’ve been asking users to give us feedback through a banner which appears on every page.

A screenshot of the feedback form on the beta website

This is one of the ways we try and find out from users what works well, and what doesn't. There are many insights from user research that we use to influence future iterations. The feedback on the website is one of them. It also helps us prioritise changes we need to make to the website.

As more parts of the website have gone live, we’ve seen an increase in the number of users giving feedback. I thought I’d share some of the feedback we’ve had and what we do with the information.

Validating our work

Behind the scenes, teams are working hard to make sure that the website meets users’ needs. And it’s really encouraging to see feedback which supports this.

One user recently said:

As a vision impaired person I found the beta website to be much clearer and easier to read.

That’s really good news for us when we get lots of feedback saying the same thing. It means that our new approach to content and design is meeting user needs.

Another user tells us:

Beta is much better. The current page is very dated and the font is too small.

Mentioning the font size is important for us. We previously wrote a blog post about how typography affects accessibility and readability so a user telling us about font size helps to validate this work.

In addition to giving us real insight about the content and design of the website, collating feedback from beta is important, along with user research, because it helps us know how and why people are using the things we’re making.

Like the Statutory Instruments (SI) service, which went live in June. Since then, we’ve received feedback which tells us that users are using the service and it’s working for them:

This is exactly what I've been hoping for!

And:

The data available is brilliant - please do these pages for all SIs. The appearance is clear and functional.

Also:

I note that the page is being tested. I hope this service goes forward and that it will lead to it being much easier to find out the progress of any SI.

This type of feedback helps shape what we work on

In March this year, we put a link on MPs and Lords pages on the current website letting users know they could also visit these pages on the beta website. As a result of this, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of people looking at MPs and Lords pages on beta and submitting feedback.

Research showed us that users want to know how to address an MP (for example, do they want to be called by their first name) which is currently shown on parliament.uk, but not on our beta site. One user said:

On the individual MP webpage, on the old version it says how to address the MP. On the new beta version that information is missing. As a constituent it is very helpful to know how to address the MP. Please may this information be included within the new website.

The beta site is not a like-for-like replication of the current site, but the ‘address as’ feature is one we've found out is useful for people, given the feedback we’ve received. This is one of the things we’ll be looking at in the future.

Continuous iteration

There’s more. Earlier this year, we turned off our old search and replaced it with our new service. Every week, thousands of people use this service to find out information about topics they’re interested in.

Lots of people have been using the new search service and it’s the area where we get most feedback. Many users have said they would like to be able to refine search results and told us what refinements would be useful:

It would be helpful if there are possibilities to sort or refine the search. e. g. by date.

And:

It should be easier to do an advanced search for particular kinds of information.

We recently added more information for users when searching in the form of ‘hints’. Liz Thomas, from the data and search team, recently wrote a blog post about the latest changes to search.

We have plans for more improvements to our search service, and collecting feedback helps us know what would be most useful for users.

What’s next

With more pages being released, we have to think about how we can get value from the feedback we receive.

One of our ideas is to communicate the changes we make as a result of feedback. Writing blog posts like this is a start. And we want to find more ways to do this.

We’d also like to collect more specific information about pages to help understand user feedback in context, and to fix bugs on the site. So, we’re thinking about putting specific feedback links on each page, rather than a generic link on every page.

Do you have thoughts on our beta website? Tell us what you think.

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