User Research for Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) Case Study

Helping to gain a deep understanding of users’ needs

Providing the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) an understanding of their users and stakeholders and guiding them with best practice methodologies for constant digital development

Results at a glance

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Cards sorted at workshops
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Scenario tests conducted
User personas created
Invuse Client Logo - Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)

Igniting a user-driven digital revolution

The ICO website is visited over 5 million times a year and presents users with a wide variety of guidance, advice and services. For most users, the website is the first point of contact with the ICO and therefore the most direct and engaging tools the ICO has for communicating with their various audience groups and users.

The original website design was introduced in 2014, and since then the organisation has grown and evolved and so have the needs of their users and stakeholders. To meet these needs, the website needed to evolve both the content and functionality, in the short and long term and the changes needed to be informed by solid user research. 

The ICO did not have user research resources available internally and Invuse came in to provide best practice guidance and undertake a range of user research activities to help the ICO understand user’s needs when accessing their website and digital services.

By employing a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, we aimed to provide ICO with valuable insights for informed decision-making regarding their website and digital services, focusing on improving the overall  user experience.

Further results of the project

  • The project was split into 2 stages, the first stage was completed within 4 months
  • The second stage was completed in 2 months
  • We demonstrated our commitment to knowledge sharing by providing opportunities for the ICO to engage and learn from the research process.
  • Invuse organised workshops and presentations to share research findings, insights, and recommendations with ICO stakeholders.
"The insights uncovered by Invuse were extremely valuable and were the driving force behind a large-scale architectural change on the website. The insights helped us design with user needs at the heart, and were a great tool for getting buy-in from internal stakeholders."
Invuse Client Logo - Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
Hannah Smith
Senior User Centred Design Manager

Project at a glance

The scope

  • ICO’s goal was to gain a deep understanding of how their users interacted with the website.
  • They wanted to uncover the users and stakeholders motivations and frustrations when using the website.
  • The research would involve user interviews, user surveys, user testing, and analysis of web analytics data. 
  • The research data would inform recommendations for improving the user experience, including possible changes to the site’s information architecture and navigation.

The process: stage 1

The first stage of the project was divided into three phases, with specific objectives and deliverables:

Phase 1
This phase focused on the start of the user research with a website audit, analytics review and stakeholder engagement. 

  • Analysis of ICO’s existing website from both a user experience and analytical standpoint. 
  • Initial review of the homepage, information architecture (IA), and signposting to assess the accessibility of content templates and key pages. 
  • Analytics reviews were conducted to identify the most visited pages and user journey patterns.
  • To ensure the project aligned with stakeholder expectations, Invuse conducted one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders, such as the Digital Architect and Content Owners.
  • We organised group workshops to gather collective views and thoughts, enabling stakeholders to voice their challenges, frustrations, and desires for the website improvements.
  • To accommodate busy stakeholders, a short and convenient stakeholder survey was made available.

Phase 2
This phase focussed on user workshops, accessibility, and scenario testing along with a Card Sort.

  • In order to create a safe and trusted environment for users to share their thoughts, Invuse conducted user workshops tailored to each user demographic. 
  • Workshops involved up to eight participants per demographic and explored the user insights into the current website and the opportunities for improvement.
  • Analysis of user behaviours on the existing w
  • ebsite was reviewed to benchmark against the progress.
  • Online Scenario Testing was conducted with some of the workshop attendees, alongside some additional users with limited availability.
  • Accessibility testing was performed with a selection of users with assistive technologies and a variety of disabilities, including sight and mobility impairments.
  • The online card sort covered the frequently used content to reveal a user centered information architecture for the high-level site structure.

Phase 3
This phase focussed on card sorting, Information Architecture (IA) design, user persona creation, and research analysis and reports.

  • Accurate user persona profiles were created based on the research findings, aligning them with stakeholder and user inputs as well as analytics data. 
  • A user-focused navigation structure that promoted key user journeys, was created based on the card sorting findings. This would inform the design of an overarching information architecture (IA) and service-specific navigation for the website.
  • Invuse analysed and prioritised all research findings using the MoSCoW methodology.
  • The analysis served as the basis for recommended prioritised improvements.

The process: stage 2

The second stage of work took place approximately 4 months later with the focus on face-to-face UX lab based Scenario Testing and a Card Sort for one specific section of content.

  • This enabled us to create new user personas, for two additional roles
  • The testing was based on the new content approach, which had been developed based on the Stage 1 recommendations
  • The ICO staff attended the lab to observe and engage in the research process.
  • Each user completed a card sort with a different set of cards, for both the Public Sector and Private Sector users
  • Invuse completed a full analysis of all the research findings, providing the ICO with reports detailing the lab testing data and card sort recommendations

The challenges

  • The ICO website had been in its current form for a long-time, with much of the site structure unchanged from the website’s original launch.
"Our work with the ICO shows how the ongoing relationship we have built, enables the continuous improvement of their website user experience, learning and iterating from each round of user research."
Keri Harrowven
Invuse User Experience Lead

The Project Team

Invuse was selected as the supplier of choice for the ICO project, outshining other suppliers with our extensive knowledge and expertise. Our deep understanding of the digital landscape, coupled with our proven track record in delivering projects aligned with the GDS standards, set us apart. With a strong focus on WCAG compliance, we ensured that the guidance provided to the ICO would ensure the website would be accessible and inclusive to all users. Our commitment to user-centric research and adaptability to evolving user needs positioned us as the ideal partner to elevate the ICO’s digital presence.

About The Information Commissioner's Office

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent regulatory authority in the United Kingdom responsible for upholding information rights and enforcing data protection laws. As the UK’s data protection authority, the ICO plays a crucial role in safeguarding individuals’ privacy and ensuring organisations handle personal data appropriately. The ICO is responsible for promoting awareness and understanding of data protection regulations, investigating data breaches, and taking enforcement actions against organisations that violate data protection laws. By regulating and supervising the use of personal data, the ICO aims to protect individuals’ rights and promote trust and confidence in the handling of personal information across public and private sectors.