Focus groups inform a better City of Surrey website

The City of Surrey is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. Geographically, the municipality is the largest in British Columbia. With a population that has almost doubled to 500,000 over the last decade, expanding by 1,000 new residents every month, Surrey faces unique challenges in meeting the needs of its residents.

The City of Surrey’s online team, drawn to Content Strategy Inc’s research-based approach, hired us to support them in better serving their resident audiences through the City of Surrey website.

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“They are looking to data-driven decision making to inform their activity and spending,” said CSI content strategist Alyssa McLeod. “The whole of the project is research and discovery in an effort to help them become more effective and lean. They are constantly working towards more convenient, accessible ways of servicing the citizens of Surrey. We’ve been engaged to help them determine how best to do that through digital content.”

CSI conducted a series of six external focus groups to gather insights from citizens related to their needs, interests, motivations, and interactions with the City’s digital channels and content.

We also held three focus groups with City employees.

To validate and build upon insights uncovered from the focus groups, a survey was created and distributed to a mass audience through the City of Surrey’s social media channels and website.

With this data in hand, CSI can designing a content strategy informed by and aligned with the unique needs of the users it is designed to serve.

Our findings

Through audience research, we discovered people weren’t finding the information they needed on the City of Surrey website, and ended up using other (more expensive) channels to meet those needs. There were a couple of causes for this:

  • Confusing labels and content organization
  • Hidden priority tasks and topics

Our recommendations

We identified the top six tasks rated as most important across all audiences and recommended these be readily apparent and accessible from the home page. It would be much easier for audiences to help themselves with clear pathways to priority user needs and tasks.

We broke the page down into zones for the City of Surrey, indicating where priority tasks and topics would be most helpful for audiences. See the original home page and our concept below.

Taken from recommendation report

Surrey’s response

The City of Surrey’s new home page is fantastic and clearly puts audiences needs first. The top six audience tasks are immediately apparent beside the image carousel in zone one. Plus, they’re written in user-focused language and present tense. Audiences will be able to quickly scan the text and take action.

Current page zone one

Zones two and three clearly identify priority user topics, but still allow audiences to discover the content the City of Surrey wants to prioritize. When audiences scan down the right side of the screen from zone one to three, they’ll see tasks and topics in order of priority.

Current page zone two
Current page zone three

Congratulations to the City of Surrey for putting audiences first right from the home page. We’re so glad to have been a part of this change!