Case Study

Home sweet home

Improving access to visas, immigration and citizenship, through a complete website ecosystem for the Department of Home Affairs.
Full stack development
Content writing
Experience design (UX/UI)
User research
Service mapping
Content audit and migration
01.The engagement

Three sites are better than one.

Living, working and adventuring abroad is one of our nation's favourite pastimes.

The Department of Home Affairs keeps Australia safe by managing our immigration, citizenship, customs, visas, security and border-related functions. These are all serious business and the Home Affairs website is the key channel for connecting people, from all over the world, with the right information for their stay.

Home Affairs initially asked us to transform their digital presence, from an information repository, to more of a service. With the shift of the department in 2017, the request for one website quickly became an entire ecosystem.

From research to content to UX to tech, Hide and Seek redesigned an ecosystem of websites to support the growing services of the Department of Home Affairs.

02.Solution design

The purge.

We reimagined the website ecosystem from the perspective of users from all over the world. This meant taking a machete to unused pages, around 6,000 of them, banishing duplicates and broken links.

We audited their information architecture (website organisation, structure and labelling of content), focusing on key user tasks and validated their priority with the client.

To better understand the breadth of experiences and needs of our users, we completed extensive testing.

From ACT to Jakarta, we explored connectivity and user flow, creating a stadium map of services to frame key actions.

We performed a platform audit to make content accessible and useful again; retaining key documentation and culling the rest. We improved not just the surfacability (how easy something is to find) of important information, but readability at a very fundamental level. Complex pages were distilled into microdecisions pointing to clear tasks.

We hired a team of 20 authors to revise content from a service perspective, using verbs that communicate user actions and requests. Terminology was consolidated, explanations simplified, and it all met a best-practice Hemingway readability level of 5. Best of all, the legal team approved content in record time with the least amount of rewrites to date.

03.Technically speaking

We lost our heads, in the best way

Because the project was rescoped from one site to many, we needed a secure solution that could be adapted across the Department’s portfolio.

Our answer? Going headless (way ahead of its time, at the time).

Due to the Minister's rigorous code exemptions, we had to work from the outside-in. Beginning in our own environment, we built a headless CMS with an Angular front-end application, then we sent it to an internal recipient to integrate within the department’s systems. This solution was more secure and suited to the department’s needs than the previous Sharepoint approach, and it all lived within an internal domain connected to the API on the public app.

04.Outcomes that matter to humans

Life-changing design

Besides delivering – not one, but three – websites within the time allocated, we improved the task success rate by 40%. Essentially, changing lives for the better.

Migration agents, tourists, and business owners, were finding it easier to navigate the site for important info around immigration, visas and citizenship. Their task completion rate had leapt from an initial 7% to 47% in just 12 months.

Service owners were identified across the Department, improving accountability and credibility with a vetting process for all new content. And if/when the department grew, and needed to satisfy more services, the sites could be adapted and rolled out further. Not only did this solution reduce friction for users, it reinstated hope around entering Australia, seeing loved ones and starting over; changing the perceptions and lives of citizens and visitors alike.