Environmental Protection Authority

Supporting a change from a website designed for business needs, to a website designed for user needs

Responsibilities:
Research, UX, strategy

Overview

The EPA recognised issues with their website but lacked a clear pathway for change. As the lead researcher, I conducted and coordinated discovery efforts to deliver recommendations for a future website redevelopment, as well as communicate to the EPA why the issues were not what they expected us to find.

Initial problem

Who are the primary users, how do they use the website, and where is the website failing to support their needs?

Research

Through discovery exercises we looked to understand the current users, technical, and business landscape of the EPA website.

My responsibilities were to lead the research involving:

I also coordinated the content and technology discovery which included:

Findings

The findings were vastly different to what the EPA was expecting us to find. They had been preparing to change or upgrade technologies, however we found issues that were going to require more research and take lengthy implementation.

Content doesn’t support primary users to complete website tasks

The website serves diverse customers, but only a small group uses it and for specific purposes. Scattered content fails to cater to customers finding this information.

Technical problems have non-technical solutions

Initially perceived as technical issues, internal problems such as poor search results, excessive files, and editing constraints originate from internal business processes.

Poor internal business processes have led EPA staff to use the website as their own intranet, meaning content gets written to serve staff instead of customers

Other challenges

Making changes to the website to reflect customer needs poses a risk to business continuity because of the heavy use and reliance on the website amongst staff. To implement these changes will need buy-in from the business and will require a detailed change management plan.

Research outputs

I produced a report documenting our findings and recommendations that the EPA were then able to use as a guide towards implementing improvements.

Overall, the key issues we found needed long term strategies to be solved. However, the EPA had been expecting quick technology change recommendations, and to fill this expectation we provided a mix of quick wins as well as long term recommendations to improve the website.

One of our recommendations from this project was that further research was needed, and this led to the EPA coming to us to request a project to design a content strategy.

Next project: Auckland Transport