The Challenge

Parramatta is the geographical centre of Sydney, 24km from the Sydney CBD and the only Sydney centre with a true 360 degree catchment. The city has a population of 175,000 people and is already the 6th largest CBD in the country.

Parramatta City Council plays a major role in revitalising the area for residents, businesses and visitors, providing services to improve the quality of life for its residents and to make Parramatta a great place to live, work, play and invest.

The Council wanted a contemporary and up-to-date website providing timely, accurate and responsive information to a broad range of user groups including residents, ratepayers, businesses, visitors and media. The site needed to be well structured and logically organised in response to site visitor needs rather than the hierarchy of the organisation. The Council wanted a user-validated solution over a short timeframe and with a limited budget.

The challenge was to meet the task and informational needs of the user groups whilst addressing the Council business goals of:

  • Decreasing phone calls to customer service regarding unclear or unavailable information on the website.
  • Increase the number of service requests submitted over the website.
  • Increase online transactional usage.
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The Solution

Squiz's approach to designing a solution focused on:

  • Understanding the user experience before devising the information architecture and site design.
  • Testing the usability of the proposed design with real users.
  • Incorporating feedback from testing into the design process.

This involved working with stakeholders to understand and prioritise business requirements, and understanding of the broader website context with a Competitor Analysis and Web Analytics evaluation. Following the requirements-gathering phase, Squiz worked with project stakeholders to design the information architecture and site wireframes, and create a Functional Specification. During the design phase a navigational framework was proposed that simplified the menu structure and used contemporary labelling targeted at the different audience groups.

Squiz then carried out moderated usability testing with a selection of representative users, testing the reaction to the innovative menu labelling, as well as the effectiveness of megamenus in enabling the user to easily find their target content. We also tested how easily users were able to access online service requests and transactional functionality.

This process was carried through into the design phase, refining and updating each iteration based on feedback and findings to ensure a user-centric, effective website.

The Result

The result for Parramatta City Council was a contemporary website that sets the Council apart from its competitors and has received extensive positive feedback from the both stakeholders and the broader community. As well as using audience-targeted labeling in the menu structure and using mega-menus to increase content visibility and access, it provides quick links to high-use tasks and prioritises online services, supporting the project business goal of reducing customer call centre contact and increasing online transactions. Parramatta City Council also implemented Live Chat allowing live online support, which has been highly successful and warmly received within the community.

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