Since Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) launched the revamped eCitizen portal last September, it has garnered a 65 per cent increase in visitorship and improved the success rate of searches by up to three times.
The eCitizen portal, which was first launched in 1999 to provide access to government e-services, now has 70 topics, which include articles and quick guides to government services, as well as links to 410 e-services offered by 61 agencies.
The latest revamp was undertaken to improve the content as well as presentation and navigation of the website.
“When we reviewed the previous eCitizen, we found that the old way of categorising information was no longer relevant due to the changing needs of the citizens. Since the portal was last revamped in 2004, it is timely to refresh the portal to respond to the new environment that we operate in and to embrace opportunities availed through new technologies,” said Ms Ong Seok Leng, Senior Director, eGovernment Group, IDA.
In coming up with the new look for the web site, a user-centred design (UCD) approach was adopted, placing the user at the centre of all design decisions. Research activities were carried out with users of the eCitizen Portal to understand their needs and the obstacles they faced when using the old portal. The eCitizen team also sought expert opinion on current trends with other government web sites and search providers such as Google and Amazon.
One of the key findings that emerged in the research stage of the UCD approach was that users tended to use the search function as their starting point at the eCitizen portal. This was to become one of the key design principles behind the new eCitizen portal, with the search bar prominently positioned in the centre of the homepage.
Searches were also made more accurate by observing how users used this feature, which then sifted out the different search terms that were applied in relation to a topic. For example, the eCitizen team found that users preferred using acronyms and abbreviations such as GPCL and IVF as search terms instead of “Government Paid Childcare Leave” and “in vitro fertilisation”. The ability to support searches using acronyms was thus introduced.
At the same time, different weightage was attached to different content, enabling the portal to prioritise the search results to display the most relevant hits on top of the rest.
Content was another key area of focus for the eCitizen team. The team was guided by a simple principle – to make eCitizen the first-stop portal for users to find government related information and services. Hence more cross-agency topics were introduced to offer users a quick reference to trusted and credible whole-of-government information. Examples of these topics include:
•‘Buying a new HDB Flat: A first-timer’s guide’ which incorporates information from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the Central Provident Fund Board (CPF),
•‘Government Paid Maternity Leave’ with information from Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Manpower and CPF, and
•‘Singapore citizenship: your privileges and rights’ with information from Elections Department of Singapore, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, HDB and CPF.
Another enhancement was the introduction of infographics and videos to present information more clearly, especially in situations where it is more cumbersome to convey the information through text. The use of different modes of expression also allows the eCitizen portal to convey content in a way that resonates with different users. For example, infographics are used to explain the process of getting a motorcycle licence while a video explains the school admissions process for Singapore residents