Yacht
Royal Museums Greenwich

A usability review for the Royal Yachting Association.

As the National Governing Body for all forms of boating, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is committed to driving support for and participation in these activities, both among its more than 110,000 members and across society in general.

To help the membership institution achieve its strategic goals, our User Experience (UX) consultants conducted an expert usability review of one of the RYA website’s most frequently-used features - a ‘Where’s My Nearest’ tool that helps users find clubs and other services close to them.

Exploring every element of the user journey - from locating the tool and performing a search through to assessing results and viewing individual club pages - we delivered our findings as part of a detailed report containing prioritised next steps, best practice examples from peers, innovators and competitors, and wireframes demonstrating how the suggested changes could be implemented.

In short, everything the organisation needed to make improvements to increase online engagement with the tool, and so help drive increased offline membership too.

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Focusing on value

To support the continued growth of their member base and encourage engagement with the range of boating activities they promote, the Royal Yachting Association wanted to optimise key areas of their website - a primary touchpoint for interaction with members and non-members alike. However, to ensure they targeted their improvements where they would deliver the greatest benefits the association required expert insight to help focus their efforts and prioritise tasks according to business and user value.

The RYA therefore asked Box UK to conduct an expert usability review, which we kicked off with a collaborative session to define the goals of the project, and how these could best be achieved. From this, one area of the site in particular emerged as a priority - the ‘Where’s My Nearest’ tool that provides users with information on local clubs, test centres, and other relevant services. While already extremely well-used by both current and prospective members, this service had been built around the needs of the business rather than those of the users, and so presented a valuable opportunity for optimisation.

The facets of usability

Armed with an understanding of the desired direction for the review our consultants then performed a ‘cognitive exercise’, walking through the ‘Where’s My Nearest’ journey - and other related journeys - exactly as a user would, noting any particular areas of friction or difficulty as they did so. As part of this process key areas such as information architecture, navigation, content and visual design were assessed against ‘heuristics’, or key usability principles, including:

  • Efficiency. Can users quickly access the tool? Are key pages overwhelming and/or distracting?
  • Satisfaction. Is using the tool a rewarding experience? Are users given reasons to return?
  • Effectiveness. Can users complete tasks and achieve their goals, i.e. can they do what they want to do using the tool?

To provide an even more comprehensive overview of the tool’s performance, our consultants also reviewed similar services from different membership organisations and other best-of-breed locator services, as part of a Peers, Innovators and Competitors (PIC) analysis. This gave valuable insight into where the RYA’s offering sits within the market, as well as providing inspiration to help guide future strategy, based on good practice trends and inventive UX techniques from both within and outside of the industry.

In-depth insight

Before completing the report we organised another discussion session with the client, to provide them with an initial high-level overview of findings, and agree the contents and format of the final deliverable. This focus on communication and transparency - which was reinforced throughout the project - ensured that the RYA was provided with practical, actionable and prioritised recommendations for improvements, to help drive maximum returns from their investment.

Alongside our consultants’ recommendations, the report also included static wireframes exploring how the pages may look once the suggested changes had been applied. Incorporating the user interface design patterns identified in the PIC analysis where appropriate, these wireframes help visually demonstrate good practice and so support the creation of clear, cohesive and usable digital products and services. Additionally, they enabled our consultants to more easily communicate suggested features that would help deliver a richer experience in the long-term, such as the integration of club social feeds into individual profile pages - providing fresh, original content while minimising production overheads.

The tools to make a difference

Taking the client through the report on a final, playback call, feedback was extremely positive. And with good reason, too - now the RYA can proceed with their programme of optimisation confident that the changes they’re making have been independently validated and are prioritised to deliver the greatest value, as quickly as possible.

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