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Recently Nathan wrote about’s high homepage bounce rate. He implemented A/B testing to check our hypothesis that people type ‘NZ government’ into Google and expect to find the Beehive website, not

He analysed a tsunami of data. Unfortunately, the different layout options, which directed people to the Beehive site, didn't show significant improvement. It looked like the high bounce rate wasn’t caused by layout, but something else.

Where next?

The problem of the high bounce rate remained. So, we dug into another source of evidence to help diagnose the problem. We struck gold with our ‘voice of the customer’ feedback. Consistent themes have come out, which hint why the bounce rate could be high.

Feedback has told us that people don’t think looks authoritative. To many, it doesn’t even look like a real government site.

The use of pale blue and the lack of a logo (apart from the all-of-government brand) have meant that people question whether the site is official. It also lacks a ‘New Zealand’ feel. There’s been lots of comment about the photos. The homepage ones come across as bland and generic — like stock photos.

What we’re doing about it now

We’re just finishing a design and structure review working with Massey University's amazing Open Lab. It builds on existing evidence and iterates from it. The designs have also had a couple of rounds of user testing. So far it’s looking like the changes will address the problem of the site’s lack of authoritativeness. But we’ll only know for sure once the designs are put live early next year. Once they’re up we can get more feedback and also run more user research. I know Nathan will be waiting for the analytics to give him MOAR DATA…

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