Industry guidance

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


The industry guidance page is the fourth-most visited page since May 2020. It has been a high priority for the Governor’s Office and has not had a significant update since May 12, 2020. This page is key to the work of many stakeholders: city and county officials, business owners, business associations, and members of the public. When new restrictions go into effect, this page becomes a go-to resource for many businesses. The team felt it needed a redesign.


Overall, the project took a total of 10 weeks.

  • Discussing the project: 1 week
  • Recruitment: 2 weeks
  • Conducting research: 3 weeks
  • Analysis: 2 weeks
  • Report: 2 weeks

Research goals

We wanted to test the usability of the page with real visitors to define the priorities of and tasks important to specific groups.


  • Understand the motivations for each user segment to visit the industry guidance
  • Understand how people navigate the page
  • Understand what people prioritize when checking the industry guidance page
  • Understand if the taxonomy of industries is relevant to each segment’s business type
  • Understand when would they revisit the page and for what purpose

Research methodology

For this project, we decided on three different methods to fit the timeline and the research goals:

  1. Intercept visitors as they navigate the industry guidance page to understand who they were and what they were trying to accomplish.
    a. Intercept 70 people visiting the industry guidance page and follow up with 20 phone interviews.
  2. Interview key stakeholders such as GoBiz (Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development) and business representatives to understand their jobs and how they use the page to serve their customers.
  3. Perform usability testing sessions to evaluate the page’s usability and user experience, focusing on relevance, hierarchy, and accessibility.
    a. Hold 5 one-on-one sessions with business owners in California.
InterceptInterviewsUsability testing
Example of the intercept on the industry guidance pageProfiles of people interviewedScreenshot of a usability testing session

Recruitment criteria

  • A diverse set of visitors: business owners, goverment employees, members of the public, business associations
  • Business owners from a diverse set of industries and diverse buisness size
  • People with different frequencies of visits
  • Live and work in California

Outputs and deliverables

  • We put together a report with a summary of the key takeaways and pain points. We also included videos and links to more information.
  • We segmented the visitors in three groups and delivered detailed information for each segment. These groups enabled the team to define what to prioritize next.
Business ownersGovernment officialsMembers of the public
Matrix of business owner goals, tasks, and pain pointsMatrix of government official goals, tasks, and pain pointsMatrix of member of the public goals, tasks, and pain points

We determined our core visitors are county and city officials because:

  • They visit industry page multiple times a week
  • They refer others to covid19.ca.gov
  • They use the page in detail
  • The page content is key to the execution of their job
  • Information and content is copied and cascaded to county websites

Our secondary audience is business owners. They:

  • Visit industry page when moving to new tier or after the governor’s briefing.
  • Get most of the information from the accordions.
  • Get advice from county officials and business alliances on specifics when definitions such as ”with modifications” are unclear or state and county roles are conflicting.

Graph of level engagement depicting casual users (low), core users (medium), power users (high)

We also put together a spreadsheet with key findings and recommendations for the team to prioritize. Here’s a snapshot of our key findings:

SectionFindingsRecommendationsUser Segment
Navigation (from Blueprint)When visiting directly from the Blueprint, essential business cannot find additional information and assume there are no restrictions.Content: Consider adding essential business in the list of activities.All of users
In the Blueprint, the link to the industry guidance gets lost in the results.Design: Consider making the link more relevant.All of users
When coming to the industry guidance from results in the blueprint, visitors expect to see a detailed explanation of “with modifications” means.Content: Consider clarifying of what “modifications” mean.All of users
If the result do not provide guidance, there’s no easy access to the industry guidance page.Content: Consider adding a link to the industry guidance page in the results so visitors can still find the page.All of users
Navigation (from homepage)The language from the homepage to access industry guidance page is confusingDesign: Consider creating a link to industry guidance from homepage consistent with the title of the page.Business owners
The different routes to access the industry guidance page are inconsistent: what’s open, county status, how can I safely open my business. Industry guidance (footer) menu -> working safely -> industry guidanceDesign: Consider adding a section addressing business needs on the homepage.Business owners
When coming from the homepage, visitors have no information about tiers. Which tier are they in now?Design: Consider adding or replicating the what’s open search in the industry guidance for people coming directly or from homepage.All of the users

We also delivered a content gap analysis focused on addressing visitors’ needs with the existing content.

User segmentUser needDoes content exist?Can they find it and use it?
City officialsI want to know what are the new updated guidancesYesSometimes
City officialsI want to know what’s different from state and county guidances to make better judgments when informing the residents & businessesNoNo
City officialsI want to know what has changed in the new guidance so I can update our website with the new contentYesSometimes
Business ownersI want to know what category my business falls underSometimesSometimes
Business ownersI want to find the guidance that applies to the different parts of my business (for example: I own a hotel that also has a pool and restaurant)SometimesSometimes
Business ownersI want to find best practices to keep my employees and customers safe (for example, how often do we need to test? Do we need to do contract tracing?)SometimesNo
Business ownersI want to know how my business will be affected if we move tiers so I can be preparedSometimesSometimes
Business ownersI want to know who is in charge of regulations, guidances, enforcement, etc.NoNo
ConsumersI want to check information about how businesses are following regulations in my county so I can decide what to doYesSometimes
ConsumersI want the latest information about which activities are allowed in my countyYesSometimes


The post-launch feedback user research, and analysis of data identified gaps and opportunities in both the industry guidance page and how it intersects with the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The team decided the best solution was an updated Blueprint page design that incorporates industry guidance. This solution addresses most of existing problems, streamlines the experience, and makes industry guidance easier to update, maintain, and track.

Prioritized challengeSolutionSuccess metric
Industry Guidance difficult to find (“find the guidance I’m interested in faster”). Users had to go through list manually.Add all industries to the what’s open search (for example: agriculture, cohorts, manufacturing, communications, public transit, mining)Reduction in complaints regarding difficulty in finding guidance
People had to know the precise industry category term to find the relevant guidanceShow activities (like yogda) in results instead of from industry categories (like gyms & fitness centers), so people no longer need to specify the exact term to find the relevant guidance. Specify that the activity name must follow guidance for the industry name.Reduction in complaints along the lines of “I searched for yoga, but you showed me gyms”
Business users have not always realized that they may need to follow guidances from related industriesThe what’s open search results now also show other industry guidances that might also be relevant (for example, we highlight that a gym might also have a cafe)None identified
Site search drives a larger than anticipated audience to the industry guidance page.Incorporating industry guidance into the Blueprint serves all audiences without increasing complexityReduction in requests for support from general public users trying to make sense of the dedicated industry guidance page.
Only 14% open PDFs and it’s hard to see what part of a PDF was updated when you itGuidance and checklist PDFs are presented in context without requiring a separate effort to findHard to compare without an industry guidance landing page, but the percentage of people who open PDFs after expanding the details of a search result should go up, as should the overall percentage of visitors who open PDFs. Target should be 2x to start.
Guidance depends on what tier your county is in but the industry guidance page is not context-aware about what tier your county is in.Displaying industry guidance as part of the what’s open search results shows county’s tier in the same contextReduction in complaints that tier information is lacking from guidance PDFs
Some people want to anticipate what the guidance will be if the tier changesPeople can see the information for all tiers by leaving out the county information or by searching for a county in another tierNone identified
People looking for industry guidance are not always aware there may be related county guidance beyond the state mandatesThe new design uses clearer language and offers links to relevant county websitesNone identified

The designer prototyped the proposed solution, which still relies on communicating information through PDFs, that incorporates the value of the search results. People will be able to find industry guidance through the search features and get information about their tier in context. This addresses two unmet needs uncovered during resesarch.

Minimum viable product design of new what's open search



What went well

  • Merging the industry guidance and the blueprint page will improve the publication flow, helping the stakeholders with their day-to-day work.
  • This workflow has more collaboration with stakeholders.


  • Only 14% of visitors open the PDF, but our new design makes PDFs a core piece. Redesigning the page to present the guidance and checklist PDFs presented in context for the relevant industry is a big risk that can lead to a lower satisfaction if we do not do a great job.
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