Beta.australia.gov.au coming soon

Author: 
Sharyn Clarkson

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We’ve embarked on a redesign of australia.gov.au, the go-to website for Australian Government information, and we’re taking an iterative approach.

We’ve completed some initial design work and testing with our users and come up with a prototype (or Alpha site).  It’s just a few HTML pages that demonstrate the concept, but you’ll get an idea of where we’re heading.  You can check it out at: http://voodoowebservices.com.au/dev/ausgov/build/.

Using the prototype as our base, we’re currently building a Beta site in Drupal. We’ll be making the Beta site available on the internet, so that we can test ideas and enhancements in a live environment, with input from the public. It won’t be perfect, but the purpose of a Beta site is to uncover issues and make the necessary improvements.

We didn’t get here by ourselves...or overnight.

We were initially inspired by the NZ and UK Governments, and thanks to their open approaches were able to learn from the redesign of www.gov.uk and beta.govt.nz.   

In May 2013, our move to a more flexible Drupal platform gave us the opportunity to focus on improving australia.gov.au.

Lots of research and user testing followed, helping us understand and prioritise needs from a user perspective. From that research we learnt a lot, including that:

  • The home page should offer a broad range of topics, but not overwhelm with mass hyperlinks
  • Keywords under topic headings increase user confidence about which path to take
  • Not everyone understands how government works; we need to write in plain English
  • Information placed on the right-hand side of a web page is often ignored

We now have quite the list of improvements! Some can be delivered directly to our existing site and others are better progressed using an iterative alpha | beta | live development approach.

We’re a small team, learning as we go and building our maturity in evidence based design.   Along the way we’ve worked with industry experts from Design Managers Australia, ThinkPlace, PeakUsability, MaadMob, Voodoo Creative, Panalysis, and Funnelback.

Our Beta site will be open to public comment. We’ll be asking you to tell us what you think. Your suggestions will help us build what we hope will be a truly great user-experience.

Comments (2)

Kia ora Sharyn

Good luck on the journey ahead. The Govt.nz team over here in NZ is getting ready for our full launch in July. We were looking back on our journey just recently -- 25 code releases to production and 6 major design iterations since we did our Alpha site and we're almost ready.

Really looking forward to what you guys develop - we're facing many of the same design challenges - there's lots we can continue to learn from each other.

Thanks for the encouragement! We really appreciate how generous you and your team have been in sharing your beta.govt.nz research and design thinking. It's great to have such a close relationship with a team working on similar challenges.

We're watching your design iterations closely and wishing you all the best for the big launch in July. We'll be in touch soon to find out how we can support your launch on this side of the ditch.

Sharyn

Last updated: 23 August 2016