LocalGov Digital today launches its free Usability Dashboard, enabling councils to gather feedback from peers and the public on tasks across their websites.
Launching last Tuesday, the dashboard allows councils to sign up any number of tasks across their websites and digital practitioners or members of the public to carry out simple tests and provide feedback on these.
Through crowd-sourcing the usability testing councils can gather an objective view of where improvements to the user experience are needed.
Making the most of practitioner expertise
The Usability Dashboard is a collaboration between Simon Gray, Corporate Web / Self-Service Development Officer at Birmingham City Council, and members of the LocalGov Digital steering group.
Simon said: “I’d started creating the Usability Dashboard in-house at Birmingham to help us gather feedback on more of the user journeys across our website.
“We recognised that just because a task wasn’t high volume, or naturally considered a ‘top task’, the journey may have other great importance to the user and the organisation. The tool offers a quick way to gather feedback from peers and the public.
“Collaborating with LocalGov Digital on the development has helped to widen the tool out into something which can be used by any council, for any of their tasks. The more councils use it, the more feedback which is given, the more useful it is to all in developing excellent digital information and services.”
LocalGov Digital worked with Simon to take the Dashboard through its alpha release, where members of the steering group helped Simon to test the concept and improve the functionality to this point. The tool is now available in public beta so councils can register their sites and tasks to be tested and digital practitioners and members of the public can sign up to carry out simple heuristic reviews.
Simon said: “The Usability Dashboard has a crowd-sourcing element to gathering feedback on website tasks. By getting lots of people to carry out a few tasks each council will get a more objective view of the usabiliity of their website, as opposed to heuristic or expert reviews carried out by individuals.”
By releasing the Dashboard in beta the tool can continue to be developed based on feedback on the functionality. The steering group are keen to continue working collaboratively with Simon and also other practitioners who may have design or development skills to contribute.
A toolkit to improve digital services
The Dashboard has been developed as part of the ‘Makers’ work stream (covering Content, Design and Development) of the LocalGov Digital steering group. It is lead by group vice-chair Phil Rumens, Web Development Manager at West Berkshire Council.
He said: “The collaborative work on the usability tool so far, and the plans we have for developing it further in the future, show the real strength of LocalGov Digital as a practitioner network. Recognising Simon’s expertise and building on his existing project, the group has been able to support this work meaning something that would have been used by just one council will now be available for all to use, for free.
“LocalGov Digital is identifying more work like this which is already being explored by practitioners, or that could be scoped because a need in the sector has been identified.
“Our aim is to build a toolkit which councils and practitioners can use to best suit the digital needs of the people they’re serving and this tool makes a great addition, joining the existing Content Standard.”