After an agency-wide redesign of program websites that targeted the public and prioritized a common “look and feel,” the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement at the Administration for Children and Families had a visually appealing website. The problem: Key stakeholders—state and tribal child support agencies, employers, and other partners who deliver program services and access the site daily—complained they could no longer easily find needed information.
Their feedback prompted us to facilitate a UX-minded focus group to recommend improvements that met both users’ business needs and the redesign goals.
“Virtual” Focus Group
We wanted the focus group to include representatives from several states and users with varying expertise in policy, training, and systems areas. We knew that a traditional focus group—one that meets in a room—wouldn’t work. We needed a more fluid way to do our user testing and gather feedback, so we created a virtual focus group. During the iterative process, we got feedback and tested new designs in real time with participants from across the country! Here are a few of the most significant changes we made:
Problem 1: Difficult to Navigate
Although we have three levels of landing pages, users couldn’t access all the sub-levels from the navigation bar.
Solution: Expand Navigation Menu
By expanding the navigation bar to show all the pages that exist under a main section, users can access second and third tier pages directly from the navigation bar.
Problem 2: New Design Layout Not Useful For All Pages
The design layout with tile images didn’t work for the policy page. It was too restrictive and allowed only a few policy documents to be featured at a time. Users wanted a list of all policy documents they could easily scan and sort by type and year.
Solution: Redesigned Page Layout to Provide List and Sorting Tool
The new design layout allows access to all policy documents users can sort by type and year.
Problem 3: Difficulty Finding Commonly-Used Resources
During focus group sessions, we learned that state representatives wanted quick access to their most-requested resources. They didn’t want to search our library for the same resources over and over again.
Solution: Quick Links
The new “Quick Links” feature puts these frequently-used resources at their fingertips.
Problem 4: No Easy Way to Share Content
Since a significant part of our website is used by program staff at the state, regional and federal level for day-to-day operations, the focus group requested an option to easily share content with colleagues.
Solution: Added Share Button
The new share button allows readers to share content right from the page. For those who prefer social media, the share button is compatible with over 300 apps!
With the help of our core users and our parent agency, we now have the best of both worlds: A great new visual design that quickly delivers what our users need.
Crystal Peeler is the Federal Communications Lead in the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).
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