Residents' input helping improve website
We can sometimes have a blinkered view of our web content after staring at the same webpages day-in day-out. As such, it's always good to get a second opinion from residents on what they think of the website and how it can be improved.
User testing is a great way to discover any problems our site may have, as well as defining what is working well for us with feedback from a sample of the general public.
That's exactly what we recently did with the help of Ashford Access Group. The group, who provide disabled access advice to the council, provided five volunteers who stress tested our website. We were looking to identify any issues with accessibility or using the website in general.
We gave them some typical user journeys through the website to complete. These customer journeys included paying a parking fine, reporting a missed bin collection and applying for single persons' Council Tax discount.
The sessions were recorded and the volunteers were interviewed to understand their experience of using www.ashford.gov.uk.
All of the feedback they gave us was incredibly useful, with some of their insight compounding what we already knew about the website.
We had already fixed a lot of issues within just a few days of the session. Examples of these included:
- Adding a 'skip to main content' button at the top of each page – this prevents screen reader users being read the same information (social media links and menu buttons) every time they enter a new page.
- Fixing a content gap for the search term 'parking ticket'. Previously, we had only referred to this using the council-speak term 'Penalty Charge Notice'.
- Reordering page titles in menus to make more sought-after content easier to find.
This feedback has been integral to us further developing the website. It also helped our preparations for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which came into effect in September 2019.
A website is an ever-evolving platform and we're working hard to make ours even more responsive and easy to use for all.