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Usability Testing Prompts New Site Structure

This is the story of usability testing that resulted in a complete restructuring of a website to match the way its audiences (fintechs, government agencies, consultants, and financial services firms) expected to find content.

The Challenge

Our client, an international NGO, needed a new website to publish research data in a format that could be easily consumed. The research data that would populate the site was collected in six countries. It included raw data sets, charts, and data visualizations for each country. The team overseeing the research designed the website.

The client team had taken their best guess about what navigation structure would help audiences find and use the country data, but they had not gathered any user feedback during the initial stages of design.

They engaged us conduct usability testing on a beta version of the website, make any changes needed, and then test again before launch. The two rounds of testing would allow them to launch with the confidence that the site would be well received by the target audiences.

Original version of website before testing and revision

The original navigation of the site included three tabs. All country data was nested inside the “Explore” tab.

Our Work

We conducted two rounds of one-on-one usability test sessions with roughly a dozen people representing the client’s primary audiences, in several countries around the world. We used screen-sharing software so we could see the test participants using the website on desktops, laptops, and mobile.

The content was originally organized in three main navigation tabs (see screenshot above). The first and second were a welcome and examples of how the site’s research data could be used in business cases. But the meat of the site, the country-specific data, was buried under the third tab. We found that this site structure made it hard for the audiences to understand and use the site–which would mean low adoption of the site and low usage and sharing of our client’s research data.

Outcomes

Through usability testing, we learned users expected this site to be organized by country. Their projects are focused on the countries in which they work, and that’s how they expected to see the data organized. With our findings in hand, the client was able to reorganize the site by country, and also make other improvements to ensure the site would be a valuable resource to the intended users.

Thanks to usability testing, the site reflects the needs and preferences of its users and is a usable and successful digital property.

Image of website after usability testing and revisions

The revised site, organized by country, the way users expected.