Cumberland Council

A collaborative User Experience project with one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan local government areas in NSW

Introduction

Cumberland Council, in Sydney’s western suburbs, is one of the most culturally diverse and vibrant Local Government Areas (LGA) in NSW. As a result, Cumberland Council has an active focus on community-building and providing an extensive range of municipal services for its residents.

While the Cumberland Council’s website has a wealth of information available online, much of it is inaccessible due to poor information architecture (IA) and confusing user interface (Ui) design. We decided on a multi-phase approach for this project.

User research

We conducted user research using the following methods:

  • Expert review of the current Cumberland Council website

  • High-level Landscape analysis

  • SME research workshops

We performed an expert review of the Council’s website in order to understand any initial problems with the usability of the site. An integrated landscape analysis, which reviews and compares similar sites, was carried about and included in a report. This will provide a baseline understanding of how the site works and the most common different functions and services offered to users. We also conducted internal research with Cumberland Council staff to understand the vision for the website according to the SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and identify current problems and concerns.

User Testing

We ran user research workshops to inform our customer experience recommendations. Focusing primarily on observing user interaction with the website (using desktop and mobile devices), we recorded how the site stands up against a list of detailed tasks and criteria, supplemented by user feedback to our questions. We sourced users from local residents, as they are the primary audience for the website. A final report was provided at the conclusion of usability testing detailing the findings.

Information Architecture

We proposed a set of IA changes for the website, which we then tested using a Tree Test. A Tree Test is designed to test the information architecture of the website - i.e. how users try to find information, unmoderated. A report is provided at the conclusion of tree testing detailing the findings.

Design and Template Review

After reviewing our findings, an additional co-design workshop was conducted with key stakeholders from Cumberland Council who are involved in content management. The purpose of this workshop is to understand the limitations of the current templates used in their CMS.

We then provided recommendations on changes to the site templates, and created wireframes and an interactive prototype based on the identified, most common user journeys of the Council’s website.

Conclusion

Our job was to make the Cumberland Council website easier for residents to find important information about living in the Cumberland council area. 

Our key findings include:

  • Users were not able to find relevant information quickly enough, impacting on their user experience negatively

  • Key pages such as development applications and bin days could benefit from a simpler design and reorganisation of layout and content

  • Pages and content require clearer “signposting” and labelling, and so improving the IA was a vital step

Based on our research, we redesigned the templates with the following ideas:

  • Key information is summarised and highlighted

  • Reducing text, or at least “chunking” content into manageable sections

  • Increased flexibility and adaptability of the general content template

The Cumberland Council Ui/Ux project was a great opportunity for us to display the full range of our Ui/Ux expertise, to showcase what a proper and in-depth analysis can help improve the usability of our client’s website. It highlights the importance of a user-centric design approach in designing and developing a website.