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What focus-points are the most important when designing public websites? We give you the best tips in the article below.
When designing digital solutions for the public sector, usability should be paramount. But how do you work user-centred when simultaneously subjecting to the criteria that the public sector must comply with? Our User Experience designer Mie Hedegaard gives you her best tips for UX design for the public sector.
1. Start by ensuring that your content and structure on the website are understandable, intuitive and logical for the citizens.
When assessing the usability of a website, we tend to focus a lot on the visual design. And if your website has an outdated look, a new design can also give users a significantly better overall impression. But as long as your content does not play, you will probably not experience a considerable reduction in the number of confused citizens calling in because they could not find what they were looking for. Make sure that there is an understandable taxonomy on the page, that the content is written in a recipient-oriented language and that the structure is logical so that the citizen is sent on the right path from the start.
2. Get started with content processing well in advance.
If you doubt whether your content is understandable and logically structured, it may be a good idea to test your website with citizens "from the outside". The kind that does not speak the official language. If you already have a good idea of what efforts are needed to optimize your content, you may be able to skip the test. But no matter what, it's a good idea to get started well in advance if you want to revitalize your website. It always turns out to be pretty extensive work, and it is a lot easier to make good design decisions when you know what the design should specifically form the framework for. As an example, your content structure is of great importance for which navigation concept is most optimal to choose.
3. Be careful to separate "self-service" from the general information you provide.
There has previously been a tradition of clearly differentiating between self-service solutions and everything else, e.g. by letting the self-service solutions have their own area on the site. But the thing is, the vast majority of content on a public website is self-service. Be sure to present the options for action where they are relevant to the citizen. Most people need to prepare before applying for a building permit. What is the procedure? What information do I need ready? Am I in the right place? Therefore, it is not very user-friendly that information and shopping opportunities associated with this are located in different areas on the website. Feel free to use visual tools, such as an eye-catching colour (a "call-to-action colour"), to highlight the action options on the pages where they are relevant.
4. Make it easy for users to scan the content pages for relevant content.
When we need to find information on a text-heavy content page, we usually scan the page in a fixed pattern (you can Google "F-pattern, Z-pattern" if you want to know more). Fortunately, our habits are very similar in this regard. It is well. Because it allows us to structure the content in a way that helps citizens find what they are looking for. Clear sections with headings, accordions or modules, with a particular layout corresponding to a special type of content, can be tools for a clearer structure on the content pages. Make sure there are visual "anchors" with relevant keywords on the page that citizens can quickly scan over with their eyes.
5. Offer overviews and shortcuts where there is a lot to relate to.
Many have probably been through the rationalization exercise, which is about turning 1000 subpages into 100 subpages. In some cases, you can cut down on the amount of content, but other times you will have to gather more content on fewer pages. If you find that a page has a lot of content, the citizens must scroll a long way to get to the bottom of the page. It may be a good idea to give the citizen the opportunity 1) to get a quick overview of what the page contains (a kind of table of contents) and 2) to jump directly to the content that is relevant to him/her. And an obvious way to do that is with an anchor link menu. If you instead want to spread information about a specific topic across multiple content pages, it may be a good idea to refer to them at the bottom of the page. A bit like you know it from webshops. 'Were you interested in 'Enrollment for 0th grade'? Then you are probably also interested in 'Folkeskoler', 'SFO', 'Privatskoler'."
In general, it is essential to understand the importance of a good user experience. Suppose the user can easily and intuitively perform self-service on the site, for example, by filling out a form. In that case, the user will be more willing to use it, resulting in fewer confused users contacting customer service or giving up altogether.
The digital platforms of public authorities must be created to include everyone. All citizens are equal, and everyone has the right to contact the authorities. That is why we work intensively with the availability and design of service journeys that consider that not all users are the same and that there must be room for everyone. This web accessibility is especially something we as a consulting house focus on when developing and operating public digital platforms.
The user experience is also part of our Publify software, a CMS software for Danish municipalities, created by Kruso and municipalities jointly. All modules and templates in Publify come standard with a user experience layer, which follows the above practices for good usability in leading-edge software and citizen-oriented digital service concepts. These concepts are continuously tested and refined under the auspices of both joint and individual projects.