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Building a new website which puts users’ needs first

Head of Digital Communications

Our website has served us well for around six years but recently, when we've tested it with complainants, they've told us that they find it confusing and cluttered.

They get frustrated as they can't find the information they want and can't fill in a complaint form quickly and easily. We have been doing what we can to improve our current site but are hampered by its outdated structure and inflexible software.

We are committed to using technology to deliver a better service to complainants and our website is a key part of that. It needs to answer straightforward enquiries and help people who want to to complain online. With about a third of people now coming to our site on handheld devices, our site also needs to work well on mobile phones and tablets.

We want to build the new website with and for our users. That means capturing the needs of our different audiences and testing the site with them. In particular, we want to make sure that the website works for the groups most likely to suffer from service failure and the groups who find it hardest to get their voices heard.

It's really important to us to have a continuous process for gathering people’s input and testing our work in all sorts of ways. Sometimes that means getting out of the office and talking to people to find out about their circumstances and expectations. So far we’ve tested simple outlines and a range of designs for a new home page with customers, including patients and Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) staff at several London hospitals. We’re also talking to other stakeholders like complaints managers, advocacy groups, and staff in our London and Manchester offices. We’re starting small but already finding out all sorts of important things about how people understand different words, what sort of designs work for them, and how they categorise different kinds of information. It’s only by listening to what our users want that we will be sure that we can build something that will work for them.

The next step is to test some key web pages aimed at different groups of people. We are keen to get your views on their content and layout. We’re particularly looking for feedback from:

  • People who want to make a complaint
  • Organisations we investigate
  • Advocacy groups and representatives
  • MPs and MPs’ caseworkers.

Get involved

We have a brief survey which runs from today (Monday 23 May) to midday Friday 3 June [now closed]. The survey is anonymous, and it should take less than five minutes to complete. We’ll be using the feedback to help us build a picture of our different audiences’ needs to make sure that our new site contains the right sort of information and is as user-friendly as possible.

We are aiming to launch a pilot site in the autumn and with the full new website up and running at the end of 2016. If you would be interested in being kept informed and involved, please email sara.wilcox@ombudsman.org.uk.