Social care directory user experience: the results

Luke Canvin

A recent survey of social care directories found OCC’s MarketPlace offers one of the best user experiences for those seeking information and advice about care.

Socitm, the society for IT practitioners in the public sector, carried out the survey in December 2017. It reviewed 152 council sites on a range of user experience criteria, including:

  • how easy it was for a user to find the site
  • content and presentation of information, including the clarity of headings and the relevance, continuity and detail of the information as the ‘depth’ of a user’s enquiry developed
  • a user-centred design avoiding long and circuitous user pathways
  • two-way integration, navigation and consistency across a council’s sites

2 of the 7 sites recommended by Socitm, at Cheshire East and Barnsley, use the OCC MarketPlace platform:

Livewell Cheshire East

    • : “This site had one of the best integrated directories I’ve seen. Livewell content is seamlessly integrated with the main site. The directory allows easy filtering to find relevant services. The links into it from main content pages directly link into relevant results. Very impressive!”

Barnsley adult health and social care: “Fantastic – excellent supporting information, logically presented, with clear links through to the all-important assessment and eligibility information throughout. The directory of services has a good range of helpful categories which allowed me to narrow down my searches quickly.”

The report has a useful section on the mistakes that councils can make when introducing a service directory, including tips on how to improve the user experience:

    • “Councils that have moved a significant amount of content from their adult social care pages to directories need to make this findable by making sure that content is frequently deep-linked from the site, using clear headings and descriptions. Editors need to take care that links ‘land’ visitors in the right places: too often a user is dumped into a listing of services with no warning or introduction, and this can be disorientating, even for experienced web users.”

The report also highlights a number of other factors that may compromise a good user experience, including:

    • duplication of content on more than one site
    • failure to ‘deep link’ between something discussed on the council site and the third-party site
    • difference in content style between the council site and the third-party site
    • poor content categorisation on third-party sites dependent on off-the-shelf elements
    • reliance on a basic keyword search
    • no acknowledgement of the council’s involvement in provision of the directory
    • no means to return from the directory to key assessment and eligibility information on the council site