Case study: IP Australia

  • Author: IP Australia
  • Date: 16 Jul 2012

When IP Australia embarked on their web presence redevelopment, the National Transition Strategy (NTS) had only recently been launched.

While their understanding and application of accessibility requirements was low at the outset, the NTS quickly became a foundation for deliverables throughout the redevelopment.

Background

IP Australia is the Australian Government agency responsible for the administration of intellectual property (IP) rights and legislation relating to patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder's rights.

When IP Australia embarked on our web presence redevelopment, the National Transition Strategy (NTS) had only recently been launched. While our understanding and application of accessibility requirements was low at the outset, the NTS quickly became a foundation for deliverables throughout the redevelopment.

Planning

The redevelopment provided a great opportunity for the organisation to look at the web differently. The focus from the outset was on our users, rather than purely the provision of information. The position was quickly adopted that good accessibility would lead to a better user experience for all.

User research

The redevelopment was built on extensive user research that allowed us to understand:

  • who our users are
  • their drivers in visiting us
  • their information seeking pathways
  • priorities for change.

From this we were able to develop our information architecture, map user journeys and developed personas that were used throughout the project to ensure our solutions would meet our users' needs.

Importantly, we revisited our users multiple times during the redevelopment, seeking feedback and improving our solution along the way.

Process and implementation

Based on our user research it was quickly determined that a simple makeover of our web presence would be insufficient. The main issues were:

  • inconsistent user experience
  • poor information discoverability
  • multiple platforms and hosting arrangements
  • multiple looks and feels
  • dated technology
  • limited capability to adopt new and emerging channels

As a result IP Australia undertook a complete redevelopment of its entire web presence.

Implementation process

The implementation of a new content management system (CMS) and the site build was undertaken over approximately nine months with a range of external partners and staff within IP Australia. The project itself moved through a number of phases but key were:

  • User research
  • Information architecture development
  • Content auditing, mapping, rewriting and conversion from portable document format (PDF). Emphasis was placed on developing content pitched at an appropriate level and the overall content structure, based on our user research, such as;
  • Surfacing common actions performed by users
  • Structuring content to suit both inexperienced and experienced users of IP
  • Ensuring the content we developed was interesting and delivered in a variety of formats all of which are accessible
  • Design development and implementation of a consistent brand
  • Prototype testing with both users and Vision Australia
  • Migration, testing and quality assurance
  • Beta testing with both users and Vision Australia
  • Decommissioning numerous sites

Communication

An extensive communication campaign was run throughout the project, keeping our users and staff informed of developments.

Feedback

The new IP Australia corporate website has taken the place of ten older sites, greatly reducing customer confusion and providing a consistent user experience. User feedback has been extremely positive since the launch and encouraging signs include a decrease in the bounce rate from 37.59 per cent on the old site to 28 per cent on the new site.

Since the launch of the new website, positive feedback from customers has increased:

"Massive improvement on the new IP Australia website…"

"Liking IP Australia's fancy new website."

"Check out IP Australia's new website. A very big improvement."

"Just hit the new IP Australia site — wow! I like it."

"I'm new to IP and I submitted an application today. Please let your people know that this IP Australia site is one of the easiest sites to use for such a complicated topic. It's clearly not designed by lawyers (even though IP is law-intensive). Great job to the planning and execution on your site. Regards, Happy IP Australia customer."

"Had a look at the new IP Australia website and looks great. Like the usability and the graphics on it."

"Well done IP Australia — the website looks wonderful and is a massive improvement. The website is much easier to navigate to find the right information I need."

"To whom it may concern. I am very pleased with your new re-designed website. This website is considerably more up to date and modern, and actually is no longer a burden to use. The features are easily listed, and even the most basic of users with minimal knowledge of websites should be able to use it efficiently. A good balance of new design and functionality. Good work. I only wish all government run/government styled websites could be this good."

What's next?

IP Australia is currently undertaking an adaptive redesign of the website to make it mobile compatible and user friendly. We are committed to ongoing testing and assessment of our accessibility compliance and to user research so as to continuously improve our site.This will include an annual audit of our accessibility compliance by a third party.

User centred design, including accessibility, have become mainstays of our web development and maintenance which we hope will enable us to provide our information and services and a positive user experience to the broadest possible audience and allow us to support innovation in Australia.