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European Commission

Remote screen sharing software means international usability testing  can be easily easy facilitated and observed.

  • Who: European Commission
  • What: Portal usability testing and evaluation
  • How: 25 remote interviews with individuals across Europe to understand user needs followed by a Web Usability expert review
  • Result: Tactical and strategic recommendations for new site development – and a day out to Brussels for the Web Usability team!

Background

The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) runs the ‘Your Europe Business’ website that provides information for businesses and entrepreneurs starting or managing a business in multiple countries of the EU. It contains content about the EU, EU-wide rights and obligations, and the implementation of EU rules through national legislation. The site was relatively new and was developed with limited user input. EASME wanted feedback on the usability and usefulness of the site from users across the EU.


What we did

The project was in two parts: usability testing of the site and a subsequent evaluation of the site with recommendations for improvements.

Web Usability undertook usability testing with 25 users from across the EU. These included SME owner managers and employees, people considering starting businesses, academics and people working in public administration. They were based in France, Poland, Italy, UK Denmark, Belgium, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The testing was conducted remotely as individual depth interviews using desktop sharing software with shared mouse control, so the tester (in e.g. Romania) and the facilitator (in the UK) could both see and work on the same screen. EASME stakeholders were able to observe the testing in real time remotely from their offices in Brussels. Testers were given a number of tasks to look for information on the site – so we could watch where they went and get their attitudes on the usefulness and relevance of the content.

Informed by this user testing, Web Usability then undertook an expert evaluation of the site looking at:

  • the effectiveness of the site information architecture in getting users to their goals
  • the effectiveness of the site’s navigation
  • the relevance and ease of consumption of the content
  • whether the website complied with the WAI-WCAG 2.0, level AA guidelines (IPG)

Outcomes

We produced reports documenting the outcomes of the user testing and the evaluation that were presented and discussed at a meeting of EASME stakeholders at their offices in Brussels, and which made a number of tactical and strategic recommendations for the development of the site.

“We were very happy with your work, we found it very well structured, clear and full of interesting advice so we really do not see how your working process could be improved”

Maria Lyra Traversa, Communication Adviser, European Commission, Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME)

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