Homepage redesign

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


The homepage redesign project helped us better understand visitors’ perception of a new homepage redesign for covid19.ca.gov.

The main challenge with this iteration of the homepage was “realignment”. The overall goal was to make sure that it served the core purpose of the website by satisfying visitors needs and that it also aligned with the voice and brand of our COVID-19 response.

Old versionNew design
Older version of the covid19.ca.gov homepageNew design of the covid19.ca.gov homepage


The project took one and a half months.

  • Discussing the project: 1 week
  • Designing research proposal: 1 week
  • Recruiting and conducting research: 1 week
  • Analysis: 2 weeks:
  • Report: 1 week

Research goals

  • Test if the redesign aligned with the website’s core values
  • Test the user experience when performing key tasks
  • Test the look and feel of the new homepage

Research objectives

  • Identify difficulties and roadblocks participants experience when using the new homepage
  • Understand what participants are thinking and feeling as they execute tasks and prompts

Research methodology

We performed 10 usability testing sessions.

Recruitment criteria

  • Income: range betwen less than $40,000 to more than $100,000
  • Device: 5 users on mobile devices and 5 on desktop
  • Age: across ages
  • Geography: California only, but diverse set of counties
  • Language: English

We used usertesting.com to recruit participants.

Usability script

  1. Before we show you the web page, please share what you know about the coronavirus, COVID-19. What are the most important topics you want to know about? Why those?
  2. Launch URL
    You have been taken to a new page about COVID-19. Please give honest feedback about what makes sense and what is not clear.
  3. First, read through the home page. What are your first impressions? Does it seem like a reliable and trustworthy source of information? Who do you think is responsible for this web page? Does this page answer your initial questions about COVID-19?
  4. Now, let’s assume you want to find information about the monitoring list. Where do you go to find that information? Once you are on the page about monitoring lists, read through the information. What is useful information? What is not useful? (Success: Yes, No)
  5. Now, go back to the Home page. Scroll down to the “People want to know” section. What do you think about the questions? Do they answer your initial questions about COVID-19? What other questions do you have?
  6. Please stay on the Home page. If you haven’t yet, click the question “What’s open in my county?” and tell me what you think. What do you think about the other questions? Are they relevant? Irrelevant? Is anything missing? What do you think about the overall navigation? As news and information have been changing a lot about COVID-19, how often would you check this site?
  7. I would trust this site. (9-point rating scale: Strongly disagree to Strongly agree)

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 with task completion scores into a spreadsheet. We also used this opportunity to highlight relevant quotes.

Matrix of feedback from participants

Outputs and deliverables

  • We created a report summarizing the key takeaways and pain points. We included videos and links to more information.
  • We also put together a spreadsheet with key findings and recommendations for the team to prioritize.
  • Here is a snapshot of key findings:
Uncertainty related to cases and deaths percentages (P2)Consider adding a timeframe
Participants expressed doubts about the frequency of the updates. The data is 2 days old, participants question why isn’t it updated every hour or at least the day before. (Don’t do)
Participants also expressed doubts regarding the timeframe for the percentages. +0.7 up from last report?” yesterday? last week? last month? (P1)
Confusion around number of tests: unique or total (P1)Consider adding a clarification
Cases and deaths are perceived as useless for business owners because they are not directly correlated to a business type/industry (Don’t do)Consider breaking cases by industry
People clicking the County map in Dashboard are redirected to status but are looking for a map. (P1)Make this link go directly to the map on the Blueprint page by A) an anchor link or B) moving the map to the top of the Blueprint page. Alternatively, since the map is now on the State Dashboard, we could have a single link called “view all state and county data”
Tests are perceived as a metric that could be useful for business owners by increasing their confidence in reopening (P2)Consider providing information regarding test numbers per county.


This research helped the agency hired to design the new page understand how users experience the page. The findings and insights were used to prioritize work, finalize the design, and reorganize the content hierarchy.

SectionsUser feedbackUsability
Tracking COVID-19Memorable, useful, impactfulParticipants found labels to be incomplete and not fully descriptive
News bannerRelevant to individuals, not as much to business owners. Nice to have section.Some concerns that the icon gives a sense of danger
Video resourcesNot memorable or useful
People want to knowHighly valuable and meaningful section. Relevant questions to the public but not much to business owners.
Latest newsParticipants did not find this section relevant to their needs.



What went well:

  • The agency used the research to make improvements to the final version based on user feedback.
  • Usability testing became the norm when launching new pages.


  • The design was almost finalized by the time the research team was approached to do testing. An early prototype would have allowed more time to test with a diverse set of users and provide more insightful feedback.
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