Transforming content findability for eight million people

Department of Customer Service

Transforming content findability for eight million people

Department of Customer Service

The Department of Customer Service NSW provides 
a diverse range of services for over eight million people living in NSW. In its role as a one-stop shop for all information provided by the NSW state government, 
the website includes a vast amount of content and is continuously growing.

To improve the navigation and help surface deep content, the NSW Digital Channels team created a 20-topic taxonomy for They wanted to better understand whether the taxonomy terms were meaningful and useful to site visitors in navigating 
the site.

Making the right choice for the research approach

When the NSW Digital Channels first came to us, the plan was to conduct usability interviews. As we learned more about the project, it became clear that the diversity of users, the equally diverse range of services and the large amount of content on the required something different. It needed the kind of research that would cut through complexity and pinpoint where confusion and navigation difficulties existed.

We proposed a mix of moderated and unmoderated user testing. This included six moderated interviews and 30 unmoderated tests, using tree testing and card sorting to test navigability and comprehension. The research plan also took into consideration regional and audience segment norms and language use.

Iterative testing to support continuous improvement

A quarterly research cadence allowed us to test the IA and taxonomy improvements that were made during the previous quarter. This meant that the NSW Digital Channels team could continuously test hypotheses and iterate on the same body of work, as well as test other initiatives and on-going work completed during the quarter.

Over the course of the year, we spoke to a diverse range of people to capture accessibility and inclusivity needs. Research participants came from CALD backgrounds, regions across NSW, from all adult age groups and were employed across many different occupations.

collaborative research feedback process

The research provided invaluable insights to the NSW Digital Channels team. We learned that providing multiple paths to a piece of information improved findability and that when users were able to preview content at the next step in their journey, it helped them orient themselves on the website and helped them navigate to the desired information.

We learn from our own work, too

As with all our projects, we regularly review what works well and what can be improved, and this project was no different. We learned that:

  • a quarterly approach allows the NSW Digital Channels team to engage with a large set of users across all of NSW to validate the viability and usability of the taxonomy 
  • ongoing, rather than one-off, research allows for improvements and changes to be measured and findings used to inform the next set of research so that there’s continuous improvement
  • by collaborating with the NSW Digital Channels stakeholders at every step, we can help turn questions and assumptions into concrete user research activities

Continuing a collaborative relationship

We’re thrilled to continue this research into a second year. The quarterly cadence has proven so successful that NSW Digital Channels team has asked us to continue research throughout 2023. Our collaborative approach to defining and tailoring the research activities has delivered valuable insights that the NSW Digital Channels team have been able to take action on, and we’re looking forward to contributing further impactful outcomes in the year ahead.