Business Wales Welsh government

We at the Business Wales online team manage and maintain the web site business.wales.gov.uk – communicating practical information to general and specialist business audiences. We’re also responsible for a range of social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, with more to be launched soon), and an e-newsletter.

All these are popular channels, but we wanted some concrete and measurable information to establish:

  • what information customers needed most
  • whether we were providing it
  • whether customers could find and use it easily
  • whether we could do better in terms of making content easily discoverable and usable

We contracted Customer Carewords and SOCITM to help us do this. We evaluated business.wales.gov.uk, using Customer Carewords’ tried and tested process of identifying and filtering tasks undertaken on the site, and then refining these and, by using an online survey, confirming these with customers.

We then worked with real customers, setting them real tasks to undertake on the website, and observing remotely how easy, or difficult, or impossible it was for them to complete them. To our surprise (and disappointment), some tasks proved more difficult to complete than we had expected – then again, we work on the site every day, so have become over-familiar with the language and user journey!

As a result of the exercise, we are in the process of undertaking a complete overhaul of the site, including:

  • a more prominent search box
  • making Top Task areas easier to find
  • simplifying the user journey

So far, we have found the Top Tasks approach to be very effective in helping us identify what is most important to customers. It offers a thorough and systematic process to identifying and filtering Top Tasks, and then confirming findings with users. We have found our customers very eager to respond to our research, and to take part in our user testing.

We’ve also started using the Top Tasks approach in planning our marketing and communications activity, in particular when drafting and scheduling social media and e-newsletters, and responding to requests to publish new content.

My reservation, is that too-rigid a following of the Top Tasks approach would mean that the most prominent content would respond to what the customer already knows and wants (the known-known) leaving little room for introducing the unknown-unknown – but I am confident the system can allow for necessary flexibility.

Huw Pritchard, Manager at business.wales.gov.uk