City of Bellevue UX Research Team
City websites can often be the first point of contact between a city and its residents, and designing user-friendly technology is extremely important in creating positive experiences for users. With such a large demographic, city of Bellevue officials felt that their website could be better tailored to fit the needs of all their residents. Bellevue recruited my team to evaluate the user-friendliness of their current website and to create a more user-centered design.
Our project goals were to identify and characterize the different types of users who regularly visit the Bellevue city website and use feedback from these users to inform recommendations for the redesign of the website.
Website Homepage Mockup
Winter 2018: 3 months
BIMD 362: Design Practicum
Our team's process of how we completed this project can be summarized below:
Low Fidelity Mockup
Google Analytics Data
Stakeholder Feedback Sessions
High Fidelity Mockup
We considered two categories, the top landing pages and the top pages visited, to be especially useful in assessing user patterns for the City’s website. While limiting our focus to the month of October, we observed that many of the pages most frequented related to extracurricular activities, utilities, and police. This finding helped us determine our target audiences and our generation of personas.
2. Business Licenses
3. Job Opportunities
4. staff directory
5. summer camp
6. Robinswood Tennis Center Programsand Fees
8. business license
9. Robinswood Tennis Center
10. Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities
We were also interested in the relationship between the top 10 search words and the information shown on the home page, specifically regarding topics related to “jobs.” Eventually, when we redesigned the website’s home page, we took commonly searched words and found ways to incorporate them on the home page.
After analyzing the website’s Google Analytics data and identifying the most visited pages and what users commonly searched for, we created four generalized personas of people who would most likely visit Bellevue’s website:
“Job Searching Jin” – Individuals looking for a job
“Maia the Mom” - Parents looking for extracurricular activities for their children
“Thomas the Tourist” – Short-term visitors looking for things to do in and around Bellevue
“Activity Seeking Anya” – Residents of Bellevue looking for new activities to participate in
Summarizing Key Target Groups
Since building a user-friendly website is all about knowing your users, we wanted to cover as much as the population of Bellevue as we could, focus on unique population trends in the city, and see if there were any demographic groups at risk of being overlooked. Based on our research, we decided to summarize the primary city’s website users into three main target groups:
- Largest age group in Bellevue
- Potentially very tech savvy
- Makes up the major tech industries in Bellevue
- Fastest growing Asian population
- 41% of the “Young Workforce”
- Chinese is the second most spoken language in Bellevue households
65 and Older
- Potentially more active and interested in city events
- May be underrepresented in terms of accommodation/
- Provides an insight into how user friendly the website is to less tech savvy residents
Our team set out to interview five individuals, who each met one of our target groups, in order to get some feedback from the current website:
Su - 19
“The information on this website doesn’t seem relevant to Bellevue citizens”
Sandy - 77
“65 and Older”
“Making the font bigger makes the website layout look strange”
Ian - 35
“I don’t understand the English here - pictures would be easier to understand”
James - 70
“65 and Older”
“The text is too small, I can’t read it”
Kenny - 20
“Clicking this link didn’t lead me to where I thought it would”
Our team saw two overarching issues through our own analysis of the city’s website, combined with our interviews:
There is very little traffic happening below the “fold” of the homepage, due to the large search bar in the middle of the homepage landing page.
There is a gap between what information the website provides, and what the user is expecting to see.
Currently, the home page consists of several different sections, with links to news articles and upcoming events in Bellevue. However, our review of Google Analytics data revealed that people infrequently click on the news articles and current events links. Notable, none of the news articles showed up in the lists we generated of the top 10 most visited pages or the top ten most searched for words. Thus, we found that the information and links the City shares on its home page do not reflect reasons people land on its website.
Inconsistencies between what the user expects and what the City’s website provides emerged as another tension point. Certain tabs and sections of the website prompt users to visit other websites or to sign-up for a subscription to view the content. These kinds of experiences may cause confusion and irritation amongst users, and might deter them from re-visiting the website again.
After completing our data analysis and summary of findings from the interviews, we set out to iterate on our persona types. We wanted to create personas with particular identities and who had specific needs and wants. Our process of creating personas entailed four steps:
Write down various goals that the city of Bellevue is trying to achieve through their website.
Pair different groups of users each of the city’s goals - i.e., what kinds of users would need this goal and why?
Categorize similar pairs of user-goals together and generate “I need” and “I want” statements.
Create specific personas from each statement.
From these four “I need” and “I want” categories, we narrowed our focus to specific personas. We used demographics information to make variations on each, such as having one persona be Asian and another Caucasian. After engaging this four-step process, we created two personas.
Our final step in this project was to create a redesign of Bellevue’s website.We kept a similar structure of the current website home page, but focused on rearranging certain elements to make a clearer, more user-friendly design. We also removed the large search bar at the top of the screen and repositioned it in the corner. This simple change we believed would compel people to actually look at the content on the home page instead of going straight to the large search bar. Below is an iteration of a low fidelity prototype, followed by our high fidelity prototype.
It was a real joy getting to work with the city of Bellevue on this project. This was one of my first “real-world” experiences in the UX field, and I learned a lot about proper design processes and user research - not to mention it gave me an awesome taste of project management.
I loved getting into the field and interviewing people face to face - I found there was so much to learn from people’s facial expressions, pauses in their speech, or body behavior while they were being interviewed. This research actually took much longer than I expected - our team spent two and a half out of our three months analyzing data and researching how users were interacting with the website. Initially I was worried about how little time we were saving for ourselves to actually create our mockups, but we actually ended up having one of the strongest deliverables compared to the rest of our cohort’s projects. Our professors highly praised us for the amount of time and detail we spent on our background research, because it translated so clearly to our final design. I learned that a lot of research needs to go into designing user-centered applications, as understanding your user is the most important thing in any UX project.
Below is a picture of our team with our stakeholder and partner, IT Director Enzhou Wang.
Left to right: Enzhou Wang, Yin Yin, Jeff Oh, Angela Welk (me), Rutuja Nehra