Many people rely on government websites to find what they need, so it's very important that the design helps those people with their tasks. If the website can't help them complete their tasks, then a person from Leeds City Council needs to get involved, which costs taxpayer money.
I surveyed people to find out what they had used their local council website for in the past. I took the most common answers and re-wrote them as tasks that could be completed on the Leeds City Council website:
I asked three participants to carry out these tasks on the Leeds City Council website, while they thought aloud. This uncovered all sorts of issues with the navigation and visibility on the website.
The final task—"You have a broken refrigerator..."—caused a lot of problems. It took some participants longer than others, but all of them eventually found the "Get rid of unwanted items" page. Here, they can book a bulky items collection by the council:
None of the participants noticed the link labelled "remove items from domestic properties" to start with, and one participant left and returned to this page three times before they noticed it.
I redesigned the page to make it easier for people to find the right option:
This redesign is based on two assumptions:
I created a clickable prototype and tested it with three new participants. I gave them the same task: "You have a broken refrigerator and you want to book a collection so that the council will come and get it."
The redesign led to a big improvement:
These usability test results show that a simple page redesign could fix a major issue. I sent these findings to Leeds City Council, and was told they had been forwarded to their web team.
Since then, the Leeds City Council website has been redesigned. I've noticed that the page I redesigned above has been changed and uses a similar approach to the one I used. I don't believe they used my suggestion directly, but I believe that their approach validates my own.