Analytics & Marketing Insights

The Importance of Designing Toward Key Scenarios

May 18, 2009           Conversion Testing

When someone moves to a different state, there are a number of state-owned websites a new resident may need to use. For this scenario, how does the California DMV website compare to that of the Washington DOL? The DMV leaves a lot to be desired in terms of usability, and the main culprit is the lack of content specificity.

For example, let’s say a user is looking to obtain a license as a new resident of California, I would assume a fairly common task. On both sites, there are a number of different pathways a user can take, but let’s look at the main navigation. For the DMV website, I would click ‘Drivers License,’ ‘New Driver,’ then ‘How to apply for a driver license if you are over 18.’ At this point, I’m taken to a never-ending content page, 90% of which does not apply to me a new resident. Some of the confusion can be attributed to the fact that the same content is reused for both new drivers & new residents.

On the WA State DOL page, there is a landing page designed specifically for new Washington residents. On the main navigation, I click ‘Moving to WA,’ then ‘Get a WA License.’ I’m taken to a page that’s specific to my situation and contains very little extraneous information. As a user, the page title, content and headings are speaking specifically to my needs.

We often work with clients to create key scenarios and personas to help paint a more elaborate picture of the ideal user experience before designing a single pixel. If followed, these recommendations can relieve headaches especially if the efforts are applied appropriately during the development cycle:

  1. Design towards specific key scenarios: These should be in direct alignment with the most common reasons a user would come to your site.
  2. Build pages that have content specific to the target user type: This allows the page titles, headings and content to align with what specific users needs to know.
  3. At first, don’t worry too much about edge cases, or uncommon user goals: Design for the 80% scenarios first because these will have the most bang-for-the-buck.
  4. Do website usability testing and be sure to recruit participants who match your target profile: Make sure you test your design assumptions with real users in a lab who actually use your site.

Have any similar experiences on government websites? Share them with us.



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