At Govt.nz, we’re working on producing information about services that are relevant to older people. We published a big chunk of new content about health services on the site on the 29th of April. Our approach is to organise content around the needs of users rather than the structure of government. Here’s the process we followed to decide how to group the pages so that people can find the information they need.
1. Environment scan — what information is out there?
To begin, we looked online and found all the information and resources we could relevant to older people. We also got help from the Future Service Delivery to Older New Zealanders inter-agency working group to identify what services are available to seniors.
2. Talking to people — what do people want to know?
We talked to older people about their experiences with government and the services they use. We talked to non-government organisations about their work supporting older people, and contact centre staff to find out what people know and don’t know when calling, and what they call about.
3. Open card sort — how do people group the topics?
Once we knew what topics we needed to cover we ran an open card sort using OptimalSort. People grouped the topics together however they thought they belonged and then named the groups. While no two people put the topics in the same groups, there were reoccurring themes of help at home, accidents, wellbeing and mobility/transport. For example, the topic ‘Getting your house modified’ was put into groups called ‘Help in your home’, ‘unable to look after yourself but not significantly disabled’, ‘I want to stay in my own home’, ‘Help options’ and nine more variations.
We did the card sort with a small number of participants, 19, because we knew the software would be tricky for some older users, and because we were looking for themes, not definite answers. We recruited by sending the test to our own networks of people over 65, and to the Wellington SeniorNet.
4. Making leaps — how do we join it together?
People grouped the cards quite differently, so we looked at the results and made some hypotheses.
We designed two different versions of a site tree to test our thoughts. In one version, we split the topics into six groups and in the other, nine groups. This tested the trade-off between the difficulty of more options to choose from and the benefit of more explicit titles. For example, the first version had a group called ‘Medical help’, which was split into ‘Eyes, ears and teeth’ and ‘Accidents and injuries’ in the second version. We also tested alternative label names like ‘Keeping independent’ versus ‘Help in your home’.
5. Tree test — are topics where people expect them to be?
We ran the two tests on tree testing software, TreeJack. People clicked through a site tree (the topics and sub-topics that contain pages) and selected where they thought they would find the answers to our questions We had 44 participants for one test and 45 for the other.
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6. Compare and revise – what’s not working?
The variation with more groups was the winner, with a success rate of 72% compared with 65% for the other. We found out which wordings performed best and where further adjustments were needed.
Participant 13 selected ‘Residential care’, then ‘Choosing residential care’.
Participant 14 selected ‘Caring for someone’, then returned to ‘Health’, then ‘Residential care’, then ‘Residential care subsidy’, then ‘Who can get it’.
Participant 18 selected ‘Residential care’, then ‘Residential care subsidy’, then ‘Who can get it’.
7. Usability testing — can people find things in situ?
We visited the Kapiti SeniorNet to test the content once it had been published. We talked to people about what experiences they'd had with health services, and then asked them to look at a part of our information that was relevant to them. What gets published is almost never exactly what was planned months beforehand, so this was a good way to do a final check and prioritise some tweaks we'll need to make. It also gave us a chance to see people using the information in a more natural way, and look at whether people can understand the information, as well as find it.
This is the first of a few posts we'll do about our work around older people, so keep an eye out for more.
What techniques have you used to develop your information architecture? Let us know in the comments, we’re always keen to share experiences.