Define

Provided Persona

For this project, I was provided with a primary persona to design for. This is Laura Berlinger.

She’s a 29-year-old script writer who cares about authenticity, exclusivity, and uniqueness of experience. She was recently let go from her job and needs to find out if she’s eligible for unemployment.

We can serve Laura by providing a fast response time, a visually appealing experience, and a feeling of support and partnership.

User Research

I interviewed three users whose priorities lined up with our persona to get a better idea of the user needs. My goal was to understand the unemployment process and discover what the pain points are.

Overall, they reported bloat in the content that made things unfindable, a lack of usable navigation, and a condescending attitude in communications from the agency.

There are so many acronyms that it’s disorienting to try to read. I just want to see if I can get benefits or not.
- Website User

Problem & Hypothesis

The current ESD website content disorganization and unfriendly tone is leaving users overwhelmed and frustrated which creates bitterness and disempowerment in the job-seeking process.

We believe that by clearing the way of unnecessary obstacles, and partnering with users as allies through their unemployment challenges, we will increase peace of mind, feelings of personal success and transitions into employment.

Analyze

The ESD site is a massive library of resources for job seekers looking for support and employers looking for tax filing features.

Their existing content hierarchy and navigation lacked structure. Based on the user feedback, the content was scattered and unfindable. The users had to rely on giant lists of links to try to get around and relied on the search to find what they were looking for. Once a user had drilled down a few levels, there was no indication of where they were in the system or where to go next.

Previous home page
Previous content page

Previous Sitemap

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There were dozens of unique pages in this level of content for each category. It made navigation difficult without additional categories. Users had to rely on the “quick links” and search to try to get around.

Restructure Sitemap

I facilitated a card sorting activity with three users to categorize all of the topics available on the ESD site.

Findings:

  • Main categories were accurate

  • No cross over between Job Seeker & Employer Resource categories

  • Sub-categories were needed!

Improved Sitemap

1.

Pages are broken out into multiple sub-levels to develop better hierarchy and navigation.

2.

Links to partner sites are moved to the footer for clear access across the entire site.

3.

Articles are moved to the footer since they are reference only and not the user’s main priority.

Paper Prototypes

With a site this large, it was important to work out as many issues as possible in low fidelity designs and prototypes.

Navigation Testing

I tested two different possible navigation styles with three different users to determine which version worked best for diving deep into content and coming back out again.

Navigation A - Without sub-navigation dropdown (all in sidebar nav)
Navigation B - With sub-navigation dropdown (child pages in sidebar nav)

Paper Prototype Test Findings:

NAVIGATION B tested to be the preferred navigation option for the target users. They preferred to see the larger subcategories at the top so they could quickly dive into the next level instead of having all subpages nested in an accordion that made them have to dig.

Wireframes

The results of the paper prototype tests got developed into wireframes in a digital prototype. I tested the prototype with four users to find areas of improvement.

Subcategory Landing Page Iteration

Version 1 - Sub-category Landing Page
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Users were scanning the body content for what they were looking for and hitting the bottom of the page without noticing the sidebar links.

The redesign moves subpage links down below the body content where the users were naturally looking for the content.

Version 2 - Sub-category Landing Page

Unemployment Application Landing Page Iteration

Version 1 - Apply Landing Page
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Once users got to the “Apply” page - they went straight to the first action button and skipped all of the related content down below.

That content got redistributed to other pages and to additional screens in the “Apply” process to show important information.

Version 2 - Apply Landing Page

Wireframe Prototype

Reflections

Results

Usability tests revealed that the redesign resulted in a hierarchy that matches the user's expected content structure more accurately. This redesign contributes to the ESD's 3 year strategic plan of improving customer satisfaction with technology service delivery from an estimated 30% to 80%. Considering that their services are all virtual, improving digital customer satisfaction is of utmost importance!

Lessons Learned

In researching this project, I found that user issues go way beyond the web experience and into the entire system. This made me aware of how deep problems create symptoms in many places.

Another challenge was designing for users who are already in an emotional state of fear and frustration. Every detail needs to be extra accommodating to the user.

Next Steps

I’d like to do a full content audit to sort out where all of the content will live so more extensive user testing can continue.

The next area to redesign is the application process and account management system. Users reported a dissatisfaction with the account manager where they reported their employment status every week.