Smartraveller is a comprehensive resource for people travelling overseas, including safe travel guidance and up-to-date travel advice for each country around the world.
The previous Smartraveller website was more difficult to use than it should have been. This had a direct consequence for DFAT in a heavier than necessary burden on embassies and diplomats. Our challenge was to make sure people could get to relevant content quickly, and easily understand what action they needed to take on their own, and which was appropriate to take to an embassy.
Designing for Specific User Contexts:
Travelling can be full of surprises, so it was important that the site worked quickly and efficiently in any situation. We redesigned the experience around clarity and scannability – focusing on two key user contexts: preparing for a safe trip (planning) and requiring assistance while travelling (acting).
A user’s mindset within these contexts is vastly different: Before a trip they may be excited, looking for some reassurance or doing research on behalf of a loved one. A user caught in a situation overseas may be in an agitated state, looking for fast, plain advice.
Intuitive Information Architecture:
Content had been split across three separate platforms: desktop, mobile website and mobile app – resulting in a larger than necessary burden on content management. And each platform was designed in vastly different ways, providing a confusing experience to users.
We conducted a thorough audit to determine how each audience might interact with content and prototyped ways to increase clarity and focus. The primary use case is for a visitor to review information for a specific country, then leave. We needed to create a content architecture that was scannable, intuitive and ensured the most important information was absorbed.
Efficient User Experience:
When you’re in trouble (as many visitors are when visiting the site from outside of Australia) you need access to the right information – fast. Decisions around navigation become difficult under stress, so a minimal interface helps to create a focused, efficient user experience. We created a ‘help wizard’ to solve this very problem, featuring a series of straightforward questions to guide users through a decision tree to a simple, actionable outcome.
Improving and Testing the Structure:
The previous Smartraveller website was difficult to use for many people. Research conducted by DFAT indicated that users were failing to read and retain key messages.
We developed a revised information architecture that surfaced content based on the immediate needs of travellers. A low fidelity, fully functional HTML prototype was created to allow us to test how each audience segment used the new site architecture to locate and read content. The prototype was iteratively updated based on the input of users during these testing sessions, allowing us to gradually improve the user experience.
Highly Responsive and Accessible:
Smartraveller needed to be a responsive site that would adapt gracefully to all devices. A responsive typographic system ensures legibility regardless of screen size or operating system, and bold colours are used to enhance comprehension. Using a minimal amount of imagery and system fonts means that the site will load quickly without omitting any key information, even for overseas users with patchy internet access.
Accessibility requirements were also taken very seriously during the project. We pride ourselves on giving thought to the experience for users with disability which means going beyond simply meeting colour contrast guidelines.