Warwickshire Country Parks usability testing

On the 31st March we visited Kingsbury Water Park to test the website. The Country Parks have their own website – www.warwickshire.gov.uk/parks, which is roughly a year old. We wanted to see whether the website was making it easier for visitors to find the information they were looking for.

The test

We tested ten common tasks where we marked down if the task was completed or not, whether it was easy or difficult and any comments of observations. A sample of the tasks are below:

  1. In which parks can you book children’s parties ?
  2. You’re volunteering at Hartshill Hayes Country Park, find out what time and where you have to meet?
  3. What is the cost of fishing at Gibsons pool in Kingsbury Water Park?
  4. Which parks have miniature railways?
  5. One of your party requires a mobility scooter, how much do they cost and who do you contact?

The results of the tasks were positive with 100% of the tasks completed. 77% of these were considered easy with the remaining 23% being medium difficulty.

During the tests, we did uncover some changes we could make to improve the website, outlined below.

Activities

  • The text in the activities lists (when selected from the activities option in menu) does not represent what is on the page (e.g. which parks have miniature railways).
    • We have manually added snippets to all activities so they better reflect the page content.
  • Activity lists can be quite long, need to scroll to find what you’re looking for.
    • The design has been updated to a two column list, the “read more” link has been removed as the activity header is also a link. Lists are now substantially shorter.

Photos

  • Feedback suggested a gallery page for each park would be useful for a better representation of the park.
    • We’ve created a new gallery layout which will be added to each park in the main menu. This is still updated via Flickr and fully responsive across devices. You can see the new gallery here
  • The current image slideshows on the parks pages use Flash, which is not compatible with many Apple or Android devices.
    • A new (non-Flash) slideshow has been developed alongside the gallery, this will work across all devices.

Events

  • There is a bit of confusion over events – some links went to the “what’s on” page, some to the events pdf guide. PDF is very large. Also unable to see events by park very clearly.
    • We are currently looking into ways which our Country Parks events could be integrated better into the site. The current model is a manual process. Our current events system is being replaced shortly so we’ll be in a better position to change things once the new system is in place.
    • Ideally we’d have current events displayed on each parks page using an RSS feed. The current events system does not provide this feed so we’re having trouble integrating this at the present time.

Home page

  • A user looking for mobility scooters clicked on “Countryside Disabled Access” which goes to the main Warkwickshire Direct website. From here there were no links back to mobility scooters.
    • The page on Warkwickshire Direct has been updated with a link back to the Mobility Scooters page.

Park pages

  • Information about the park (bottom of park pages) have no links to relevant pages. e.g. Cafe, mobility scooters
    • Relevant links have been added
  • Number of visitors, when the park is busy, when to expect heavy traffic etc.
    • After discussion, we felt it was impractical and not really needed to update the pages with visitor numbers.

Parking permits

  • Users couldn’t find the parking permits in navigation menu
    • This link is prominent elsewhere on the site so doesn’t really need to be in the navigation menu. Also there is no obvious place to put it.
  • Cost of manually posting out parking permit reminders is expensive so possibly use Mailchimp in future to send email reminders/updates.
    • We are in the process of trialing Mailchimp for newsletters and reminders with the view to using it for Council services in the near future

Other pages

    • A “How to find us” page would be useful
      • We have a map, directions and address on each parks page, so we feel there is no need to duplicate this on a stand-alone page
      • We’ve changed the header on the parks page from “location” to “Find us”
    • An “About us” page to give a general overview of the parks etc
      • We try to give enough information on each park page to give the viewer a feel for the park. Therefore we don’t feel a separate about page would be particularly useful as it would duplicate content found on the parks pages

Social networking

      • No one that we tested followed Country Parks accounts on Facebook or Twitter
        • We will promote the social network accounts through news items and banners on the homepage
        • Use popular hashtags for tweets more often
        • Get involved in national or regional events on twitter, using hashtags. E.g national volunteering week, love parks week etc.
        • Possibly use other popular networks Instagram (photo filters) or Vine (Short video)

Other improvements

    • Currently we have no way of monitoring and planning for upcoming events to be promoted on the home page
      • Create a shared editorial calendar in to allow Country Parks and other related staff to plan promotions on the website.
    • Over 50% of visits to the website are now on mobile or tablet devices
      • The website is used a lot on mobile devices, we’ll keep a check on the use of small tablets (Nexus 7, Kindle fire etc) to see if it is worth moving towards a more responsive design
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