Testing the new HR site

Jess Redway, January 4 2016

Written in collaboration with Fran Davis and Sioux Shepperd, Web Editors

As part of the changes to the HR information online we have had a testing week to find out how the new site structure worked in practice. The week of testing ran from 21-24 December and included staff from the CIC, HR Ops Helpdesk, services in HR, and a band of willing volunteers from across the council. We had a really busy week and came away with a lot of improvements to make, so thought you might like to hear about it.

How we tested

We packed a lot of testing into the 4 days with a lot of people, but it was worth it. We tested with 4 different groups of people, some we sat with so we could see first hand how they used the site and some fed back to us through email or a feedback form.

CIC testing

Prior to testing we emailed the new site link to the CIC team at Hantsdirect to give them time to have a quick look at the layout of the new site. We sat with each member of the team and initially gave them an overview of the project and asked for general feedback on the site. All the staff agreed that the layout looked better than before and felt that they would be able to find things easier as the site structure looked more intuitive.

Everyone was given a list of 10 user stories to test and it was emphasised that we were only interested in testing the site and not their computer skills. It was interesting to listen to and watch their journeys as they tried to complete the tests. We noted down any comments that were mentioned to improve areas and listed where they succeeded or failed in completing the tasks.

The team were very helpful and friendly which made our job all the easier.

HR Ops testing

As well as the CIC we also sat with 2 people working on the HR Ops Helpdesk . We spent an hour with each of them, sitting alongside them as they tested 25 of the user stories each. Again we gave them an overview of the project and explained that we were only interested in testing the site and not their computer skills.

Notes were made as to which tasks were successful and which were not. The majority of the tasks were completed successfully and both people felt that the site was better as it linked the policy to the help pages.

Once again both members of staff were very accommodating and mentioned that they would be available if we needed further testing.

HR  Service experts

We had a lot of help from service experts in HR when we did the audit of the existing HR information. They also went through the new site to make sure we had everything they expected and that all the documents and information was up to date and correct. They picked up on a couple of chucks of the site we hadn’t thought to move (such as safeguarding and information for non-schools teaching staff), and also made some really helpful suggestions on how we could link information together better.

Email testing

Through yammer, blog posts and the shameless calling in of favours from contacts across the council we recruited 25 people able to spare us an hour over testing week. We sent each person 10 tasks (testing each task with 5 different people) and a feedback form to complete for each task. We received 219 completed feedback forms containing some really great feedback that made us rethink some significant parts of the site.

This was the first time we had carried out testing in this way and it was a huge success, providing genuinely valuable data. We definitely plan on using this method again and, if our testers are willing, building a pool of volunteers who can help us test new developments to the site as they get built. If you would like to join our happy band, please do get in touch!

What we changed

Thanks to all that testing and the hard work of all our testers we made a lot of changes before the New Year, some big ones and lots of smaller ones. Here is a summary of some of the key updates we made.

Rethinking the homepage

It quickly became clear from testing that there were a few things on the homepage that just weren’t working. We had left on the ESS Lite tile, but we saw both from observing testers and from feedback on the email testing that people were getting confused about what this was for and then not being able to find the policy information they were looking for.

We has a similar issue with a link on the right of the page for changing log in details to ESS lite that people consistently clicked on when completing a task to change their name. Both these have now been removed to make it clearer where people need to go for HR information. We also moved the information for schools, volunteers, and suppliers to the bottom of the page so as to separate these from the main information needed for HCC staff.

Redesign of managing people

We had lots of feedback where users expected to see certain topics in the ‘Managing people’ area and couldn’t easily locate them.

We realised that managers needed to see everything on the top level so we built a menu page so that we were able to add all links to one page. As this created a long page we grouped  relevant links and used the menu option to create buttons at the top of the page to help navigate to the relevant links (in the same way as bookmarks do in a word document).

Adding in Recruitment and safeguarding information

The recruitment and safeguarding information has now also been added to the site ready to link up with the new recruitment guidance that will go live towards the end of January. We will be looking to test these new pages in mid-January so are particularly looking for anyone with recruitment responsibilities to help with the testing. Do let us know if you can spare a bit of time to help make the recruitment process a bit simpler.

Fixing some errors and Improving links

The testers proved useful at spotting where we had incorrect links, for example a link to the Valuing Performance mid year review actually went to a page about the end of year review. They also helped us think about where we could cross-reference pages so we added more links for people who might go a different route to find something than we had expected. One example was the page on redeployment which we had under ‘Managing People’. Testers had looked for it under ‘Me and my role’ so a new link was added.

Finally testers helped us by letting us know when our choice of words wasn’t quite clear enough. Following their experiences where they found it hard to find information on sick leave, the ‘Time off’ tile got changed to ‘Time off and sickness’.


One thought on “Testing the new HR site

  1. Steve Hawker

    Great article about an inclusive approach to testing that took feedback and incorporated directly into “on the fly” improvements. When it goes live properly and it gets tested in the real world it will be equally important to listen to and evaluate feedback, and translate it quickly into the next ‘improved’ version ad infinitum.


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