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Kent Channel Migration Project - Borough of Maidstone

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Bin Collections: Tunbridge Wells Council Case Study Kent Channel Migration Project
Changes made to the bin collections page on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website is one of the most powerful examples of channel shift arising from the work of the Kent Channel Migration Project.
This case study demonstrates that following the recommendations of the mySociety report will lead to high quality digital services which are so good, people prefer to use them.
In May 2013, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council launched their new website. Reducing the number of pages to fewer than 400 and simplifying the language and navigation immediately made the website more useable.
The information about bin collections had certainly been improved also - long, poorly formatted and blocky lists of road names had been refined, with unnecessary information removed. Even a helpful link to view the Council's recycling calendars had been added.
There was general satisfaction of a job well done. Consequently, Tunbridge Wells were pleased to participate in the mySociety user testing of the bin collections top task as part of the consultancy work for the project, feeling that it would vindicate and support the progress made.
The results to come back from the first tranche of user testing made uncomfortable viewing (the videos of user testing can be found on the Kent Connects portal). User after user failed to complete the simple task of finding out their bin collection day. The link that had been so helpfully placed to direct people to the recycling calendar was the cause of great confusion - people just didn't use websites in the way it was anticipated they would. As one user put it:
The task was easy, but the result was not good. I missed the final step and I'd have to go back and be getting cross with it.
Wider user-testing with a larger group revealed some eye- opening results - 40% of users could not work out their bin collection day - they either failed or abandoned the task (left).
Fortunately, mySociety were on hand to help find a way forwards. They ran collaborative cross-functional workshops bringing together subject matter experts, customer service, web and IT resource from across the Council. Having viewed the user videos, the challenge was set - what should the user journey be? The Director, Head of Service and Service Manager from the Waste & Streetcare team were all involved in understanding the challenges and defining the solution.
mySociety delivered a set of mock-ups of how the bin collections page should look and the user journey on the website. These were used by Tunbridge Wells to come up with a new solution.
The page gives a great deal more information than the old one, but it is much easier to read and understand. The right and left hand navigation menus have been removed to avoid confusing the end-user. The page tells the user what they want to know immediately - collections are on a Tuesday. Graphics help the user understand which bins are collected on which week and the page tells them the date of their next collection for each type of waste.
Returning to the wider user testing, the improvements were significant (right), almost 90% of users were able to complete the task to find out when their bins were being collected.
This has not been the end of the story. In the run up to Christmas 2013, incorrect information was sent to residents about changes to bin collections over the Christmas and New Year period. With no chance of sending out a new leaflet, the website became the preferred choice for getting the message out there.
The two weeks over Christmas and New Year saw the page take almost 15,000 views. At 9am on Boxing Day, with all of the Council offices closed, the page was receiving one hit every 16 seconds. More than 700 users signed up to email reminders.
The call centre expected to be inundated with calls and it's true they were busier, with more than 600 calls taken but without the improved bin collections page on the website, their task would have been far more difficult, if not impossible.
It is estimated that the bin collections page on the website, over Christmas alone, prevented calls that could have cost more than £50,000 to deal with, had it been possible to mobilise such a resource at short notice.