Next generation website. 4th week of ‘discovery’

That’s week 4 wrapped up…

Usability testing

We’re in the thick of usability testing now, which means showing the prototype to users to see what they make it.
Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 8_23_30 AM
So far these have all been done over webex (the purple circle in the photo hides the participant’s webcam – their face hidden for their privacy, but you get the idea). Webex is working well, but we’ll pop up at events next week (like I did for some usability sessions on the current site) which always gets better results.
Feedback on the prototype so far is encouraging. Nothing that’s been put in front of users has failed so we’re tweaking as we go.


Parallel to this, we’re looking at content of the existing site and how this meets user needs. The audit has reinforced the feeling I’ve talked about before: we ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’. The next step is to write content in a format that works better for our users and drop that into the prototype for testing with a broader range of users and potential clients.
I’m looking forward to sharing this with colleagues in a week or so – should make for an interesting discussion.

Next generation website. 3rd week of ‘discovery’

Things are coming together now


The several user journeys mapped out previously have come together in a first pass prototype. A step beyond sketches on paper or wireframes, the user experience designer has used Axure to make a cliackable experience we can talk around and improve upon.
Some of the choice picks we’ll test with users next week are:
  • Searching profiles is striped right back to a keyword search, with a couple of advanced options if users want them.
  • The notion of not needing a password is still with us and feels fine.
  • We’ve worked up different information architecture structures for the site aligned to user needs that previous weeks’ research had highlighted. The biggest bit still to explore is EEN and its connections with other organistaions and services. We’ve got tremendous opportunity here, but there’s a lot of thinking to do to make the eventual online experience simple.


We have really useful conversations with the guys behind this website, the guys configuring Salesforce and also Contracts Finder. The latter is more a peripheral thing that we may or may not syndicate our content to one day. Would be good for SEO. Our friends at UKTI’s ExportingisGREAT are a little further along that conversation than we are, which will save us some headaches, I’m sure.

User research

We’ve worked up 30 (and counting) user stories like these…
As abusiness owner
I want toget advice and support
so that I can grow my business internationally
As a business owner
I want toUnderstand the service
so that I know whether this service would be worthwhile for me
As abusiness owner
I want tostay informed on new opportunities based on my needs
so that I don’t miss a partnering opportunity
…which we’ll consolidate and prioritise. We also launched a survey to check we haven’t missed anything obvious.

Next generation website. 2nd week of ‘discovery’

We’ve concluded week two and things are progressing well.

User research

Interviews continue and consistent patterns are emerging. This will be summarised into user stories which follow this format…
As a…
I need to…
So I can…
They’ll also be prioritised when creating and refining the prototype so we tackle the most important things first. These stories will be bolstered by a survey we’re about to launch, to identify things the interviews might have missed. We also spent some time this week at Innovate 2015 talking to and getting under the skin of our audience.
Also, for context, here are a few insights from Google Analytics on this current site…
  • Traffic peaks first thing in the morning and mid-afternoon
  • The lion’s share of traffic is on desktop
  • Desktop users spend longer on the site and navigate more pages compared to mobile or tablet users
  • The morning peak is driven by email alerts pointing back to business partnering opportunities
  • Whilst mobile usage isn’t high on the site, it peaks a little in the morning, as does the bounce rate (people leaving the site without clicking on any other pages).


A few of us in the team spent time looking at the existing processes on the site (as is) and then went through them again as if the site didn’t require a password (as it could be).
EEN without a password
This is a departure from what colleagues and clients are used to but if we crack it, it will make it easier to interact with the site. It’s something central government push for, so we’ll see if it works for users. If not, we’ll revert back.
I’m really looking forward to getting the prototype started. It’s when things come together but it could also shape how things are done on the interim site. Development starts next week.


This will pick up pace next week with meetings with the existing supplier, Contracts Finder (whose code base we might be able to reuse) as well as the guys who are configuring the CRM piece of the puzzle.
– – –
More next week.

Next generation website. 1st week of ‘discovery’

It’s been a while coming but this week, things got underway with a five week project to reimagine what this website could be. The intention being that we’ll relaunch this website in the future.
We’re following a product development methodology called agile which means things are done quickly and tested with users and then iterated to make better. This five week project is known as ‘discovery’ in the trade which focuses on both user research and technology architecture in equal measure.

Interviews and user journeys



We’ve spoken to 4 users and 6 stakeholders. Next week the user interviews continue and all are contributing to the journey we’re mapping which shows users interacting and getting value from the jewel in EEN digital estate; the partnering opportunities database. It’s really interesting to hear perspectives from both sides and the experiences tends to be positive albeit, there’s work to be done to improve the web experience.
Like I say, this research will continue and will shape the priorities, features and user stories we need to address when tacking a rough prototype the week after. We’ll be presenting this back to the EEN management team to sense check and double check that we’re on the right lines.
This five week project will conclude with a rough prototype of what the new website could be. We’ll test it with some users and compare it against benchmarks on this existing site.



EEN technology architecture

Technology is the other piece of the puzzle, and I think the hardest. There are a lot of documents to read, conversations to be had and common sense to be applied to what the best technology choices should be. This is the role of a technology archtect who thinks about things end to end and of course there are a lot of open standards and reusable code parameters to work within. The back end for our EEN colleagues needs to be as intuitive as the front end will be for our clients. While this five week project won’t go in to the nuts and bolts of what button goes where, it will make recommendations that we should work within as the project progresses.
The tech work started a little way into the week so is only a few days in. That’s because we as a team needed to be across user journeys first and listen in on the interviews.
All existing stuff. Will blog again next week.