User needs not government needs
Like all public sector organisations, the Environment Agency (EA) has a responsibility to meet GOV.UK’s Digital Service Standard - a set of 18 criteria designed to help government create and run good digital services - as well as ensure that these services are accessible to all citizens that require them. It was vital, therefore, that any efforts EA made to benchmark and improve their digital strategy had the requirements, needs, and behaviours of users at their centre - which is exactly where lab-based usability testing can prove so valuable.
Providing rich, qualitative insight into how users engage with websites and applications, this approach offers a rapid, cost-effective means of validating assumptions and pinpointing areas for optimisation, to deliver big results as quickly as possible.
Aware of its benefits, the Environment Agency decided to undertake usability testing of the process through which individuals buy and renew fishing rod licences online. However, while they had individuals in-house able to conduct the sessions, to ensure the entire process ran smoothly they needed to recruit an external partner that could provide suitable facilities and test participants alongside crucial support services, to ensure the greatest value was realised from the testing activities.
Which is when they turned to Box UK.
We impressed the Environment Agency immediately with our self-contained usability lab, comprising dedicated testing suite, observation and waiting rooms, and state-of-the-art technology. Importantly, the high-definition audio and visual feeds that relay session footage to observers meant that participants wouldn’t be distracted or unconsciously influenced by the presence of one-way mirrors, which have been shown to negatively impact the quality of results.
All in the mix
With the right testing location found, we then worked with the Environment Agency to perfect the recruitment process, and so give them an accurate reflection of their real-world audience. The specific nature of the task at hand combined with the EA’s digital service remit meant that the criteria for recruitment were particularly narrow, covering anglers across a range of genders, ages, experience with the licensing process and digital capabilities. To help us identify suitable individuals quickly and easily, then, we set up a ‘screener’ questionnaire, and sent this out to our extensive database of potential participants. The results from this questionnaire not only allowed us to hand-pick for testing those respondents that best matched the specified criteria, but also added vital information to our overarching database profile, to help with any future testing requirements.
Insight to go
With Box UK undertaking this vital preparation work at the outset of the project, EA was perfectly placed to extract from their testing sessions the information they needed to make meaningful and measurable improvements to their online application process. Crucially for them, we also supplied a video record of each participant’s test session (including interactions with the screen, verbal feedback and physical reactions) that provides a lasting and comprehensive picture of the testing outputs, for further analysis and action at a later date.
Our support has helped the Environment Agency continue on the path to digital excellence - and, no matter what stage you’re at in your own journey, we can help you too. Talk to us today to find out more.