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Liverpool City Council

Web Usability helped develop this truly user focused local authority website which was the first of its type to relentlessly focus on users’ top tasks…

  • Who: Liverpool City Council
  • What: Pre and post-launch usability testing of radical redesign
  • How: Lab based usability testing with 9 users using eyetracking
  • Result: A 400% increase in online issue reporting accompanied by a significant reduction in telephone call levels.


Liverpool City Council, in partnership with Liverpool Direct, created a radical, user focused redesign of their site and wished to gain user feedback before launch, in order to make any changes before the site went live.

They then wanted to undertake a second round of testing after being ‘live’ for four months, focused on exploring real content and gaining feedback on the navigation, as well as the interactive elements of the site.

What we did

Initially, we established who we would test the site with. We proposed testing with 6 testers for the first round and 3 testers for the second round, all testers representing Liverpool City Council’s target audience – a mix of socio-economic backgrounds and sexes living in the Liverpool area.

The testing then took place as 1-2-1 hour long session using eye tracking technology – a Tobii T60, which enabled us to gain an insight into the usability issues by watching the eye movements in ‘real time’.

A key part of our approach is to ensure organisational buy-in to the research outcomes. To achieve this, key staff from the client observed users on the site to gain a shared understanding of the issues. We then facilitated a discussion between all those present to develop a shared understanding of the key issues and what changes needed to be made to rectify these.

Once these changes were implemented, the new site was launched. Four months later, a second round of user testing was conducted, and again we facilitated a discussion after the testing to agree issues and actions.


Overall, the site was well presented and testers could easily navigate between the pages using a combination of the mega drop downs or the ‘straight to’ links.
The homepage clearly identified the top tasks e.g. paying council tax. However, both rounds of testing identified a number of usability issues, such as providing clear calls to action, meaningful labels and ensuring that the navigation hierarchy was displayed in a way that users could understand where they were. These issues were addressed after each round of testing.

The site has proven very successful, with online issue reporting increasing by 400% accompanied by a significant reduction in telephone call levels.

The success of the site was been recognised by Gerry McGovern, usability guru: “The new Liverpool City Council website is one of the best examples of a top task focused website. By embracing evidence-based decision making, Liverpool has achieved a level of clarity and simplicity that is rare for a government website.”

“The testing gave our developers, designers and authors a real insight into user behaviour, and we made significant changes as a direct result of testing. Web Usability come highly recommended”

Conor Moody – Web Content Strategy Manager, Liverpool Direct Ltd

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