Fueleconomy.gov – Usability Case Study

Many technical websites have a hard time explaining information to the general public. This happens because users don’t understand the industry-specific or scientific terms. Fortunately, solutions to these problems are fairly easy—changing menu and navigation item text, or adding a line of explanatory text on key pages or complex graphics.

The DigitalGov User Experience Program helped conduct a usability test on the Department of Energy’s fueleconomy.gov mobile site in February 2013 that resulted in three top usability problems and solutions. After they implementing our solutions, the mobile fueleconomy.gov site traffic dramatically increased—for some pages by more than 1000%!

Problem 1: Terms Unclear and Jargony

Users were confused about the difference between “My MPG” and “Find a Car” on the homepage.

Solution 1: Clarify Terms

The “My MPG” was changed to “Calculate My MPG” and “Find a Car” was changed to “Find and Compare Cars”.

Problem 2: Hard to Find and Misleading Buttons

Users were confused by the “Add a Car” button or missed it.

Solution 2: Clarify and Move Buttons

The “Add a Car” button was changed to “Compare Cars” and added to the top of the page so that users could find it.

Problem 3: Lack of Help Buttons and Explanatory Text

There was no “Help” buttons or explanatory text for users when they encountered unfamiliar words or acronyms.

Solution 3: Clarify Terms

A “Learn More” button was added to the bottom of the several pages, including the Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Annual Petroleum Use and EPA Smog Score pages.

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