Hello, we are the usability team of the Digital Transformation programme. Our job is to help translate user needs and issues into the right solutions.

A bit like detectives, we ask many questions in order to understand the mindset, goals and behaviour of anyone who visits Commission websites.

The observations we collect are not and should not be based on opinions. We carefully test and analyse all data because we can only rely on real facts and behaviour.

Usability is the “extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” ISO-9241

If you happen to be someone who visits and uses European Commission websites, here are a few questions you will probably hear from us:

  • Tell us about the last time you’ve been on European Commission website.
  • When was that?
  • What were you trying to do?
  • What made you decide that you needed to do that specific thing?
  • Could you try and find this information on this website? And while doing that, could you please think-aloud?

If you run or help run a Commission website, you have probably heard us asking some of these questions:

  • Who are you targeting with your web content?
  • Which problem is your website/feature trying to solve?
  • If your website didn't exist, how else would people perform this task?
  • How do you define ‘success’ for your website?

Who we’ve helped so far

  • We have met many web teams from Commission departments to provide training, support and/or advice on usability issues.
  • We have helped build the foundation blocks of the usability strategy within the Digital Transformation programme. We want to make sure that end-users are always involved in every step of building the new Commission web presence.

Which activities do we carry out?

  • We facilitate meetings, making them more goal-oriented and structured. We generally go through some ideation phases (i.e. generate as many ideas as possible), then we prioritise insights and make decisions from this. You know we’ve been there when you see the walls covered with sticky notes.
  • We do user-tests to see how users are interacting with our websites. These tests can happen in an informal manner (e.g. guerrilla testing at the canteen or a coffee bar) or a lot more formal and controlled (e.g. with the use of an eye-tracker which allows us to know with precision where users are looking on a page).
  • We run interviews for uncovering the goals and needs of our users;
  • We set up card sorting and treejack testing sessions with users to assess information architecture;
  • We create user journey maps for plotting all the steps, interactions, goals and emotions our users experience with our product.
  • And at times we carry out heuristic usability reviews (a fancy word for an expert opinion).

Stay tuned for our series on usability testing at the European Commission.

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