How we made it easier for businesses to find coronavirus funding

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The problem

The FindBusinessSupport.gov.scot (FBS) website had to adapt quickly when the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hit to ensure that businesses could access up-to-date information about what they needed to do and what support they could get.

Because new funds were constantly being offered, and guidance kept changing as we moved in and out of lockdown, we just added new content when changes were announced by the Scottish Government. We never had time to step back and think about the complete customer journey, and the coronavirus advice page had become very long and complex.

The challenge

The Scottish Government asked us to make it easier for businesses to access information about coronavirus funding and support on the FBS website, and they gave us two weeks to do it.

screenshots of heat maps for the desktop and mobile version of the coronavirus advice page
Heat maps are one of the tools we use to research how people use our website

What we did

We used analytics, user research and customer journey mapping to rapidly iterate the site over two weeks. Here are the big changes that we made to the FBS site and why we made them.

Make it easier for businesses to find funding

One of the first things that we did was look at what the analytics were telling us:

  • Out of 185 links on the coronavirus advice page, 32 were responsible for 90% of the traffic
  • Most of these links were related to funding
excel files screenshot with a long list of links in the left column and a pie chart on the right which shows quadrant getting smaller and smaller
Excel file with all the links and the number of clicks between the 6 and the 19 January 2021 – the top 32 are responsible for 90% of the traffic

Funding was clearly the top priority for most businesses, but the amount of content on the page made it difficult for them to find it. Early in the pandemic, businesses had a lot of questions about how to keep their business running, protect their workers and find out what guidance applied for their sector. So we linked to content on those issues. Now, nearly a year on, that information wasn’t as important to them. They needed funding to help keep their business afloat.

We decided to remove most of the content from the coronavirus advice page and add some funding-related accordions to the top of the page, which would ensure that users would be directed to the funds that were most relevant for their business straight away.

We also added call to action buttons that directed users to pre-filtered searches for coronavirus funding and guidance. Analytics showed that users don’t widely use filters, especially on mobile, so linking to pre-filtered searches would make it easier for them to get to coronavirus-specific support quickly.  

screenshot of the page showing the two call to action buttons

Help users find out about upcoming funds

With the government preparing to launch a lot of new coronavirus funding schemes, we wanted to find out if users would be interested in seeing these on the FBS website, even if they weren’t open for applications yet.

We started off with some unmoderated user testing on UserZoom, and 100% of respondents said that they would be interested in seeing upcoming coronavirus funding.

It was clear that getting information about upcoming funds was important to businesses. This was confirmed by one-to-one discussions that we had with business owners. They had a lot of anxiety about missing out on funding, and they wanted to make sure that they knew when new funds were coming so they could prepare their applications.

We tried adding a list of upcoming funds to the bottom of the coronavirus advice page, but user testing and analytics showed that few people scrolled down far enough to see it, especially on mobile. So we decided to add another accordion filter to the funding section that listed upcoming funds.

We also learned that many businesses and intermediaries use email alerts to find out about funding. The FBS site offers email updates, but the link to sign up was at the bottom of the page. We moved this up higher to encourage more people to register.

Screenshot of the page on the 22 January and on the 25th where you can see the changes
Sign up for email (with a grey background) is higher up – accordions at the top – latest updates were initially at the top, now below the sign up

The results

Analytics show that the bounce and exit rates have decreased since we updated the coronavirus advice page, which means that people are more likely to engage with the site than leave after landing on the page. More people are signing up to email alerts, and the funding accordions are being used to help users find funding faster.

Screenshot of the final page, with analytics as speech bubbles and arrows

What we still need to work on

Improving the wider customer journey

We did a customer journey mapping exercise, which highlighted the fact that FBS is only one touchpoint in the funding application journey, and the application experience varies significantly depending on who is delivering the fund. 

Improvements to FBS may make it easier for a business to find a fund that is right for them, but what happens when they go off to a partner site to apply? In some cases, the application is difficult to find on the partner’s website, or there isn’t a clear call to action, or the information they need is buried in a PDF.

This isn’t something that we can fix overnight, but we’re thinking of ways that we can work with our partners to improve the end-to-end customer journey.

Want to know more?

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