Blueprint for a Safer Economy

  1. Context
  2. Timeline
  3. Research goals
  4. Research objectives
  5. Research methodology
  6. Recruitment criteria and process
  7. Usability script
  8. Analysis and synthesis process
  9. Outputs/deliverables
  10. Impact
  11. Links to documents


On August 28, 2020, the Governor’s Office announced a new reopening framework for businesses. We created a new page to communicate this new framework and tested it with business owners and members of the public.


Overall, the project took a total of 5 weeks.

  • Designing the research: 1 week
  • Recruitment: 1 week
  • Conducting research: 1 week
  • Analysis: 1 week
  • Report: 1 week

Research goals

  • Evaluate the understanding of the new framework
  • Assess the user experience of the page


  • Identify difficulties and roadblocks participants experience when using the Blueprint page
  • Understand what participants think and feel as they execute tasks and prompts
  • Assess if the framework delivers a clear understanding of what businesses and individuals can do and why
  • Identify what new information needs to be provided
  • Align the new redesign and framework to people’s ability and understanding about what’s safe in their county

Research methodology

We performed 10 usability testing sessions with members of the public and business owners to uncover problems and points of confusion when reviewing the Blueprint page and assessing the understanding of the new framework.

Recruitment criteria

  • Members of the public with and without kids
  • Business owners in different industries, business sizes, various income brackets and counties in California
  • Age: 18-65+
  • Geography: California
  • Language: English
  • Devices: mobile and desktop

We used usertesting.com to recruit participants.

Usability script

  1. Briefly share how COVID-19 has impacted you and your family.
  2. Have you heard about the new framework California is using to manage restrictions in counties?
  3. Have you been to this page before? First, read through the page and tell us what would you want to know about activities?
  4. Choose an activity/business and find information about it in your county. Tell us what you think about the results. Was anything confusing? Anything missing?
  5. Now, look at the County risk level graphic. What do you think about the levels/tiers? Are the labels/names meaningful? Why do you feel that way? What about the colors? How would you describe each level/tier in your own words?
    What do you want to know about your county? Now, scroll down to the map. Search for your county. What information stands out? What’s next? What is useful about the map? What is confusing?
  6. Now, find Tehama county. Do you understand why Tehama is in purple/widespread risk level? If so, explain why it is in this tier.
  7. Based on the information on this page, can you explain how a county moves forward or backward to another level/tier?
  8. After reviewing this page, do you think it helps people know what’s safe, what’s not, and how this system works?

Analysis and synthesis

We syntehsized each usability testing session after reviewing the videos. We took notes directly into a Google Doc and coded the data about tasks into a spreadsheet. We also highlighted relevant quotes.

Matrix of participant feedback

Outputs and deliverables

We put together a report. In this report, we summarized the key takeaways and pain points we found. We included videos and links to more information.

This is a snapshot of some findings around usability and user experience:

Status of activityIt’s nice to have. Participants tend to find out about what’s open and closed at the local/business level by searching Yelp/Google.
Activities need further clarification. Some participants are confused by what the reach and meaning of activity is: is it about going to the beach or a business type?
Intuitive and easy to use. Some usability issues were uncovered (non-existent businesses create some friction. Results on mobile present some delivery issues)
TiersLabels are self-explanatory and meaningful. Widespread purple is not meaningful.
Case rate and positive rate are clear, but some participants expect to see the real number for their counties.
Easy to read and navigate
MapDesirable and memorable. New information. Great piece to create awareness.Nonintuitive on mobile (friction regarding searchability and clickability)

Read the full report.


This research identified visitors’ confusions around the framework and issues around the usability of the page. We proposed changes in the content hierarchy that were implemented in future iterations of the page.


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