1. Talking to real users and acting on what they told us
Our schedule was tight in the run-up to transition, but we made time to interview users from all our main audience groups. Hearing what they wanted from us in their own words was really powerful, and we began to better understand the motivations behind how they used our content. Sharing the recordings around the team helped everyone to get involved.
We found that a lot of our users had already visited GOV.UK quite a bit, and that they had some concerns about navigation and search. We took that on board, for example by developing document collections for each user group and clear messages on where to find what. Bounce rates on these navigation pages are significantly lower than their equivalents on the old site (in one case down from 37% to 10%).
We also created a video showing users how to find their way around the site from day 1. The feedback on this has been great, particularly from users who are less confident online.
The people we talked to also stressed email as their main way of keeping up with changes affecting their work, so we resolved to focus on improving our email offering after go-live.
2. Internal comms, internal comms, internal comms
As we started to work towards transition, we realised that people across Monitor had very reasonable concerns about the move and what it meant for us, particularly in terms of our independence as an organisation and ability to communicate with specialist audiences.
Although users’ needs are the top priority on GOV.UK, we knew we wouldn’t be able to meet them effectively without getting support and buy-in from our colleagues.
To achieve this, and to make sure that feedback and ideas from staff were recorded and acted on, we set up an internal advisory panel including reps from every part of the organisation. We also gave regular progress reports through our all-staff newsletter and (actual paper!) posters in common areas. As time went on, we started to get really useful ideas and feedback from colleagues and less resistance to the move. Post launch, we’ve had very few negative comments from staff and many positive remarks.
Not everything was perfect…
1. Timing: if we’d been able to estimate the time required to repurpose and publish our content, we would have brought in more help earlier in the project. Quite a few late nights were needed to get us over the line.
2. Planning: the marriage of agile and waterfallapproaches was not always a happy one. We’d have done better to stick with one or the other.
3. Engagement: if we’d had more time, we’d have worked even more with users and colleagues.
Rachel and Tom led Monitor’s move to GOV.UK.
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