The National Archives advises on the use (and re-use) of public sector information, and provides advice and guidance to government departments on how to manage their information and how to produce official publications. The Information Management (IM) section of our website is a key tool in helping us to do this. The website team have worked closely with colleagues to improve the web structure and make it easier for users to find the guidance and information they need, as part of the wider website redesign.
Users were telling us that they couldn’t find their way around the IM area of the site. This was due in part to a combination of where we had located sections, the routes to navigate to them and what we had called the pages and the guidance documents. So for example, guidance aimed at IM professionals was spread among different sections; the Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS) was linked from the landing page but not easy to find otherwise; and some users were unclear why there was an ‘official publications’ section within the IM site.
To form ideas of what our audience want and need we started out with initial meetings and discussion sessions within The National Archives. We routinely compile statistics from real users – page visits and guidance document downloads – and the statistics and comments from colleagues fed into the personas (basically, user archetypes) we were developing. Personas help to keep the focus on user need and user behaviour.
We also explored the search terms people were entering over different time periods. This revealed a few surprises; for example, copyright and Crown copyright were consistently the top terms searched, but the existing structure didn’t reflect their significance to users. It was clear that we needed a structure which would make more sense for users. Continue reading »