How we improved the exporting user journey on the Scottish Enterprise website

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We recently redesigned the exports and international markets section of the Scottish Enterprise website. 

Our goals

  • Raise awareness of our exporting expertise and support – in order to help more businesses, we needed them to be aware of what support they can access through us
  • Create content that is relevant and useful to exporters and potential exporters – we wanted to ensure that content on our website was meeting user needs
  • Get more enquiries for exporting services and events – we wanted to get more people asking us about the services and events that we offer
  • Help users self-serve – we wanted to help people self-serve where possible, or signpost them to other help and support, at the right point in the customer journey
  • Get more users taking advantage of market opportunities – we wanted to help businesses understand what opportunities exist in overseas markets and how they can access them

Who we worked with

The project team included:

  • A project manager
  • Exporting experts from our trade services team
  • A service designer
  • A UX designer
  • A user researcher
  • A content designer
  • An SEO/analytics specialist

What we did

Start with user needs

The Department of International Trade (DIT) had done a lot of research into the user needs of exporters and had shared their findings with us. This was great – but there was one problem. There were hundreds of needs. 

We spent some time streamlining the used needs and categorised them by theme:

  • Motivation (Why I want to export) ​
  • Information and resources (I need information and resources to do x) ​
  • Skills (I need to ensure I have the skills to do x) ​
  • Logistics (I need to move stuff and people) ​
  • Compliance (I need to comply with the law) ​
  • Risk management (I want to know what to do if something goes wrong) ​
  • Opportunities (I want to find new opportunities to do x)

We then moved on to mapping these needs against the support/services that we and our partners offer to help us understand where we were meeting the needs and where the gaps were. 

A screenshot of a Miro board that says 'Service mapping - phase 1' with post it notes in columns for SE services (online), SE services (offline), SE supporting content (online) and Other services

Do user research

We did a mixture of unmoderated online testing and one-to-one video testing with companies, where we validated the user needs to make sure they were still relevant in the Brexit/Covid-19 climate.  

Here’s what we learned: 

  • Technical information around exporting is a high priority for users, especially around logistics/moving goods and customs, because of Brexit 
  • The needs of users are different depending on the stage they’re at in their exporting journey 

Create company personas 

We created some high-level company personas based upon our research, which helped us understand the needs and barriers that companies face at different stages. 

Test how we’re structuring our web content 

We did several card-sorting exercises, where we started off by asking users to group our existing exporting content into categories that made sense to them to understand if the current site structure was working well.  

The results showed that it wasn’t. So we grouped the results into themes, which gave us five sections. We then ran a follow-up closed card sort to validate these five sections and check that users were easily able to sort the content using these new sections. 

Do a content review 

Once we were confident that we had a site structure that would work for our customers, we did a full content audit of all the exporting content. We matched all the content to the user needs that it met, which helped us see where the gaps were and where existing content needed to be improved.  

Do an SEO review

Our SEO expert identified a number of exporting pages that could be ranking better if we made simple changes to what we called them, which would help us meet our goals of raising awareness of our exporting expertise and getting more enquiries.  

Benchmark and set targets

We created a suite of measurable KPIs that relate to our five goals and could help us to gauge how any changes made perform against objectives. We benchmarked how the existing content performed in the first six months of 2020 and set targets to better those results. We created a real-time dashboard to allow us to track performance. 

What we changed

The old exporting section looked like this:

Screenshot of Exports and international markets page on the Scottish Enterprise website before the refresh

And this is our new exporting section: 

Screenshot of the Exports and international markets page on the Scottish Enterprise website

The big changes that we made are: 

  • Allowing users to select whether they are a new or existing exporter when the land of the page, and showing them different content and services based upon where they are in their exporting journey 
  • Creating a new ‘Delivery and documentation‘ section, which has information on the technical side of exporting, since we know that this is an area that many businesses struggle with 
  • Putting all of our training programmes and events together in one section, so it’s clear what support services we offer and how to access them 
  • Adding a new ‘Market opportunities‘ section, which includes information on the scale and scope of each opportunity and the types of companies that are eligible
  • Changing what we call things based upon our SEO research and the language that our customers use 

The results

  • The new exporting and international markets section met or exceeded 65% of all targets in the first three months 
  • There was a 42% rise in total website sessions for exporting content compared to the previous three months, despite an 11% seasonal dip for Scottish Enterprise website sessions in the same period 
  • The bounce rate for organic visits to exporting content is down 22% on the previous year to 26% (the SE site average for the same period was 41%), showing that content is resonating well with users 
  • There has been a positive uplift in exporting search term rankings on Google UK, including ‘international ecommerce’ and ‘how to start exporting’ 
  • The new ‘Market opportunities’ section has generated 14 enquiries so far

You can view the full report on the first three months.

What we’re doing next

  • We’ll continue to explore how to attract new users to the site and work with the marketing team to ensure any promotional activity meets the right audience 
  • We’ll review the internal linking to our more detailed business guides from the exporting section, since they aren’t getting as many views and as much engagement as we’d like 
  • We’ll check with the trade specialists to see if the quality of enquiries has improved since we updated the section – and if not, we’ll investigate what we need to do to change that

Formerly a service designer with Scottish Enterprise.

4 Replies to “How we improved the exporting user journey on the Scottish Enterprise website”

  1. Really useful to see a clear overview of the process. I’d love to look at applying this methodology to the trade journey from the perspective of the international audience.

  2. That’s user centred design.
    Business needs and user needs coming together.
    Great work by a great team.

  3. Thanks Katie for telling the story of our project so succinctly! It’s been such a great project and a pleasure to work in collaboration with such a great team. At last it feels brilliant to ‘get stuff to done!’ 🙂

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