Between the 11 and 15 April we undertook testing for the new Valuing Performance (VP) site with 20 members of staff from across the council. We have been working on the site for the past couple of months with the aim of making the VP process easier to follow and helping people answer some of their key queries about the process online, so as to reduce support calls to the VP team.
We carried out the testing via email using the same process we used for the HCC HR testing we did around Christmas time. As before we had a really good rate of return (18 people out of 20 completed all the tasks they were assigned) and really useful feedback that has helped us judge the benefits of each type of navigation and make some improvements to language and content on the site.
As well as mapping out the process at each of the 3 stages across the year we also took this opportunity to test out 2 different ways of structuring the information on the site for the employee undertaking their VP and the manager who is supporting them. When there are multiple different people who need to undertake different parts of a process it can be a challenge to build a site that allows people to access the information they need without them getting tangled up in information they don’t want to know. At the same time everyone finds it useful to have an overview of the whole VP process and people may have multiple roles i.e. a manager is also an employee.
We tested out two different approaches to solving this problem, giving half our testers one site and the other half the second site. Both groups had the same number of managers and non-managers and both had the same tasks to complete.
- Separate process for manager and employee: this one has a page for the employee process and separate page for the manager process. In some parts of the process there are also separate pages to explain what a manager needs to do at a mid-year meeting and what the employee needs to do. This keeps the 2 roles separate so that you only need to see the information that is relevant to what you need to do.
- Joined up manager and employee: this has a single page showing the whole process including the steps for the manager and the employee. We have tried to keep it very clear who needs to do which step. Where there are steps both roles need to input on these are joined (e.g. the development log). This means that everyone gets to view the whole process in one place, but can skip over the steps that are not part of their role if they don’t need them.
3 things we found out from testing
- It needs to be clear where each task sits in the process, not just on the front page but also on the guide for each part of the process. We had lots of feedback that it wasn’t clear when you went onto a page what should have happened before you got there and who needs to do what next. We have now included a section for each page in the process saying where in the process it is, who needs to do it, and when it needs to be completed. We have also added in information on what needs to be done once you have completed that task.
- Sometimes we need to know what we can’t do as well as what we can do. When we asked people to complete a task on printing a copy of a VP it became clear that employees needed to be told that they couldn’t do this themselves and needed to ask a manager. The assumption was that everyone could print and that they just couldn’t find the right instructions.
- How to measure behaviours needs some work. Feedback for tasks around measuring behaviours made it clear that the layout and information we had wasn’t clear enough. We have restructured this page to give more detail and are planning on making some supporting videos around this area providing guidance on setting and measuring goals.
And the winner is…
When we counted how many tasks we completed successfully using each of the navigations the joined up navigation came out on top. We also sent round a quick poll to our testers with both of the links to ask which one they preferred, the majority chose the joined up navigation. Managers in particular seemed to like being able to access the whole process in one place.
As already mentioned we are hoping to work on a few videos to provide additional guidance on writing goals and how to use the development log in particular. We will also be monitoring how the joined up navigation works and testing these findings on some other projects we have coming up.
We are currently also working on a project with Occupational Health which will be going out to test in the next couple of months. If you could spare us an hour of your time to help us make it easier for you to find the information you need online please do get in touch and I will add you to our list of volunteer testers. We couldn’t do it without you!