I recently joined the Land Registry as Community Manager, in the Digital Team, and wow do I have a lot to learn! So far I’ve come across a lot of acronyms and a long list of words I didn’t know existed.

I was given the opportunity to attend 2 user research sessions with members of the public on GOV.UK. I’ve never been to a user research session before so I was really excited to sit behind the scenes.

The sessions took place at Government Digital Service (GDS) in London. When I arrived at the GDS usability suite, I took a sneaky peek into the user testing room. It was actually much nicer than the glass box I had imagined.

The user research room at GDS

The observation room had two screens that displayed the various camera angles in the room. We could also see the web page the user was looking at and the eye tracking software live in action. This was a red dot that showed us where the user was looking on the web page.

User research observation room at GDS

Each user had a set of 6 tasks to complete. The tasks related to some of the more common customer service enquiries we receive. For example:

You recently got married and want to update the title register to show your married name. Find out how you would do this.

All the users started on the Google search engine page. They were asked to talk out loud about what they thought and the decisions they made as they went through the tasks. It’s really interesting to hear comments out loud. It made me think about doing this next time I’m on a website!  The eye tracking software was pretty funny as the red dot was bouncing all over the screen – I couldn’t keep up.

All the users understood the tasks but some struggled to find the correct information. You could see from their body language that they were a bit confused. They were scrolling up and down the pages and the red dot was starting to look like one big blur! I found it interesting when a couple of users ended up on an unofficial Land Registry website. The user researcher had to point out it wasn’t our official GOV.UK site. I didn’t realise there were so many unofficial land registry websites out there, must be confusing and not good for our customers!

 User on an unofficial Land Registry website

The user researchers who ran the sessions will be gathering the results and doing more sessions with members of the public. We’ll get a summary of the common usability issues. We also get a video of the sessions and can listen to the audio. The heat map results will show where users spent the most amount of time looking and clicking on the page. This should help to inform any updates we make to our pages on GOV.UK.

Did you know our website has had over 3 million people looking for information in the past year?  Running these user research sessions gives fantastic insight and helps with our ongoing commitment to improve GOV.UK.

If you fancy joining our user testing sessions then please email The Digital Team.

Nana Crawford
By Nana Crawford,
Social Media Officer at HM Land Registry