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An enhanced member journey for the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy

Situation

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), is a UK-based membership organisation and standard-setting body for accountants who work in the public sector, accounting firms and other professional bodies that manage public funds, with international reach. Alongside standards and policy, CIPFA offers a range of qualifications, training, events and services to its members and prospective members as a thought leader in public sector financial management.

In late 2021 CIPFA had gathered anecdotal evidence the training purchasing journey was not as effective as it could be. They wanted to create an evidence base for where the experience was falling short and a clear understanding of the content and design changes required to improve it. They approached Curio to carry out a user research project to explore pain points on the training purchasing journey and redesign an ‘ideal state’ training discovery and booking journey.

Our approach

We used a range of techniques to understand user needs, pain points and perceptions of the current website. We started with an analytics review to create hypotheses for the most common user journeys taken by training purchasers and user behaviour on the site. This helped inform a draft script for semi-scripted interviews with members and non-members who had purchased training in the past, either as individuals or for their teams. These interviews included a moderated card sort exercise to help improve how existing courses, training and events were grouped and labelled on the website.

This enabled us to map future, desired-state user journeys and make improvements to the information architecture and key messaging across training content. We also created low-fidelity designs for new landing pages to be used for training discovery and booking. We remotely tested the designs with CIPFA subscribers and refined the messaging, page layouts, navigation and training categories based on participant feedback. We then handed over the page designs to the CIPFA development team to build. The new designs provided a simplified course catalogue, with more consistent labels and reduced page depth to enable site users to quickly find the information they needed.

Result

During the user research, it became clear that the insights from this project could be built on to improve the structure not only of the training section, but all sections of the website. We sought to build on the outputs of the training project through efficient, targeted user research activities to fill gaps in our knowledge and enable us to create a draft information architecture to test for the whole CIPFA website.

We interviewed CIPFA staff working in marketing, networks, communications and customer services to understand their perspective on how members interacted with the content and aspirations for the website. We also supplemented the earlier member interviews with additional moderated user testing sessions to fill gaps in our knowledge of other CIPFA audiences.   

Following this, we drafted an information architecture (IA) and remotely tested it through a tree test. Participants were set a number of tasks where they were instructed to show where they felt specific pieces of CIPFA content were most likely to be located. We tracked the directness of user journeys, time taken and the preferred location for content within the draft IA.

Based on feedback from the testing, we refined the IA and shared this with CIPFA for future implementation. The testing and user research in both projects highlighted that there is a great deal of useful content across the CIPFA website, but site users needed clearer signposting and labelling, alongside more direct journeys to be able to fully benefit from the wealth of content and services provided.

Having worked with Curio on several projects I must commend their insight, expertise and professionalism. As a client we are not always sure what we want or need. Fortunately, Curio's ability to listen, digest and transform our ask into a tangible project with high-quality outputs is a valuable skillset. The projects are always run collaboratively and efficiently, with the result being outputs which support our business objectives.

Tim Fenton, Digital Experience Manager, CIPFA

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