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Australian Government Department of Home Affairs & Cordelta

Reconceptualising the second largest online service in Australia for the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs

The Australian Government Department of Home Affairs (DHA) website is the second biggest government platform within Australia and is the first point of contact clients have with the department. It is a crucial aspect of the Department’s service delivery, with hundreds of domestic and international users accessing it on a daily basis to search for information regarding travel, tourism, security and Australian legislation.  

 

Research shows that the cost of using a telephone or in-person service is 42 times higher than using the website making its navigation crucial to understand. However, findings from an internal audit completed by the DHA in 2017 indicated its call centre had been inundated with Tier 0 and Tier 1 calls: questions that should be available from the website ranging between “what can I bring into Australia” and “how long can I stay in Australia on my current visa”. Feedback from call centre staff, suggested that users were unable to use the website effectively.  

Current test site Home page, © Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.

Aiming to improve user experience of the website, DHA engaged Cordelta, a specialist IT and web consultancy company, to reconceptualise and reimagine the DHA and Immigration websites over a 12-month period, reducing the number of Tier 0 and 1 calls and delivering essential online services. 

 

Following the Digital Service Standard, set by the Government’s Digital Transformation Agency, the project was delivered through a four-stage process: Discovery, Alpha, Beta and Live. This approach focussed on the users’ experience incorporating elements of personalisation to aid the user. Cordelta put together a team of 25, comprising digital experts, user experience designers, developers and content writers to deliver the task. 

 

The Discovery stage was crucial in understanding the needs and behaviours of the users. Extensive research included listening and transcribing over 1,000 calls made to the call centres, surveying more than 35,000 clients and conducting over 160 research sessions at customer service centres. Through this research, the following insights were discovered: 

  • Website was text heavy, challenging to navigate and the right information was difficult to find and understand. This pushed customers off the website and into DHA offices or onto the phone.   

  • Content was written to different readability standards, making services such as the visa application process harder to navigate.  

  • Over 6,000 pages on the website received less than 1% of unique views, which created significant navigation issues.  

Current test site 'Our Online Services' page. © Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.

Using this data, the project moved to the following stages of the project. During the ‘Alpha’ stage, the focus was to ‘build quickly, test and evolve strategies based on constant evaluation’. This consisted of building prototypes (design wireframes and other solutions) and testing them with users to refine the approach. The ‘Beta’ stage then enabled Cordelta to release a prototype of the website to internal staff and the public for feedback. Cordelta is currently still in the ‘Beta’ stage and will be moving into the final instalment of the program in late October.  

 

Evaluations have occurred throughout the project. A feedback chat box enabled customer feedback on the website on the DHA platform; 8000 channels and websites had been reduced to 2000 of simplified information. There was also a 400% higher success rate for using the new navigation menu.  

 

Six months following the completion of the project, Cordelta will evaluate the gross volume of phone calls made to call centres. Cordelta and DHA hope to see a significant change in results and based on their current findings and the execution of their service, they are confident that there will be a positive outcome.