Company: Shelter Scotland
Services: Housing advice and support
Position: UX consultant
Shelter Scotland is a leading housing charity that provides housing and legal advice to people. They do this via their web site and their front-line staff who help people through phone and on-line chat services.
They also provide official form letters (static word or pdf files) for people in different kinds of living situations who may have to officially communicate with their landlords for various reasons (ie. if a landlord doesn’t fix something that is broken). Sometimes, if landlords are unresponsive, a series of letters must be sent over a period of time.
Shelter Scotland management wanted to have several new features on their site to promote these features.
They wanted to reduce the number of calls to front-line staff by having people to self-serve by accessing existing content on the web. However, content was too long, outdated and did not allow the users to get to the most important information first.
They wanted feature to allow users to automatically fill the legal form letters with information and send them to their landlords email straight from the web.
They wanted a way to prompt online user to donate financial support to Shelter.
In addition to conducting a content audit and writing a content strategy with recommendations for a complete content re-organization, I worked with policy and front-line staff to figure out what the most asked questions were from people calling the front-line staff and what the answers to those questions were.
From this information, I wrote and presented a content management strategy that proposed re-writing and re-organizing the content on the front page and second level of navigation in order for people to find relevant information and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. The KPI that I proposed to measure success would be an overall reduction in calls related to those areas of inquiry.
PLANNING AND RESEARCH
I asked for metrics and looked at the volume of calls that represented those questions and made an approximation of what kinds of reductions of time front-line staff would see if people were able to find the correct information they needed. In all honesty, the data wasn’t great, so I had to rely on anecdotal evidence from front-line operators and their managers.
I also looked at the web site metrics to see if there was a correlation between the front-line staff answers and the number of Google search hits that specific subject sections on the site got.
I worked with our front-end developer to look at the capabilities of creating the best, and most accessible fillable forms for the letter. I then set about understanding how to best introduce the users to the new functionality, without taking away the old functionality, which also played an important role. I mocked up various ways of introducing the feature and then leading the user through the experience and managing the expectations of the user once letters (at any stage) had been sent.
Finally, I bench-marked many different sites for examples of ways to prompt users to donate money or sign-up to support an organization.
MOCK UPS, TEST PLANS AND USER TESTING
Shelter Scotland did not have a history of doing user testing. I had asked to test all three features separately with real users of Shelter Scotland services. Management did not want this. They said that I could test only with internal staff. Furthermore, they didn’t want me to test each feature separately. Therefore all three features would be tested together.
I formulated a test plan with specific business areas within the organization in mind, Marketing/Communications, Policy and front-line staff. I chose these because of their knowledge of the content, and their contact with the public in either front-line work, surveys or campaign days.
I created mock-ups in Sketch that best represented an entire page of the site with all three features represented. The rather loose look and feel is dictated by the corporate marketing department in London, so there was a style guide to adhere to. I did however call the marketing folks to get feedback on the mock-ups before testing.
We linked the mock-ups with a functioning version of the fill-able letters that also sent confirmation emails with messaging written my me, with help from the Policy department.
Finally I drafted a test plan for two sets of testing; one day with people from Marketing/Communications and Policy and the other day with front-line phone operators and their manager in the Glasgow office.
After the testing was complete, I organized and wrote up a document for my manger that outlined the results of the testing; what went well, what didn’t, what kind of feedback users gave us and how we needed to change, adapt or abandon specific features.
Shelter Scotland did a re-organization of the content on the first two levels of their web site to reflect the most frequently ask areas questions and the overall calls to front-line staff related to those topics did drop.