The European Data Portal (EDP) recently conducted a user satisfaction survey and round of interviews to learn more about the user experience of the portal. The aim of the research was to gain insights into users’ needs and wishes of the portal to determine areas of improvement. In total, 16 users with varying backgrounds from different European countries participated.
In the survey, users were asked to answer questions on 5 different user experience-related topics: awareness and interest, content satisfaction, experience, smart functions and engagement. For every topic, some observations were made:
- Awareness and interest: The EDP users come from various backgrounds with different levels of open data awareness and maturity. For example, the way they first found out about the portal vary and include an internet search, via other national data portals and word-of-mouth.
- Content satisfaction: In terms of satisfaction of the content variety, EDP scored an average of 5.9 out of 10. For content depth, the portal scored an average of 6.1. Respondents find content interesting and relevant. Suggestions are to link the articles with supporting relevant reports, datasets and trainings, and produce more editorial content that showcases the potential of open data in Europe. Moreover, users want more clarity on the portal’s value proposition and to understand the dependencies that EDP has to the national data portals.
- Experience: The portal’s visual design and navigation bar received a relatively high score. However, the findability of editorial content offers room for improvement. EDP users experience many online platforms in their everyday life, hence, the expectations from the EDP are high. Therefore, the portal’s user experience should look for ways to at least stay on par to the other mainstream services.
- Smart Functions: Everyone that responded to the survey uses the search functions of the portal. From their suggested improvements, we can conclude that the EDP needs to become more intuitive for its users when searching for content with more embedded visualisations.
- Engagement: Most respondents follow the EDP on social media. The two preferred social media channels are Twitter and LinkedIn. This is also confirmed by analytics conducted by the EDP team, including a sentiment analysis of the engagement levels on social media platforms. The results of these analyses show a steady growth of followers on both channels, as shown in Figure 1 and 2 below, and that Twitter is the EDP’s current most engaging platform with over a 1.2 million reach with the community. In the research and sentiment analysis, Facebook and Instagram showed low levels of engagement. Going forward, the EDP needs to reconsider how to interact with their users and how effort can be best spent promoting the service across the available channels.
Figure 1: EDP Twitter growth January 2019 - August 2020
Figure 2: EDP LinkedIn growth January 2019 - August 2020
In addition to the survey, the EDP team also conducted interviews to gain more insights into the user experience of the portal. The users came from different professional occupations, e.g. a Member State open data lead, a research associate, a UX consultant, a start-up co-founder, and a cloud and data engineer. Based on the results from the survey and the conducted interviews, 5 areas of improvement were determined:
- Value proposition: Although the EDP already has a large amount of content, it is not always clear what users can do or find on the portal.
- Datasets: Users seek guidance to quickly find data they are looking for and want to be informed about datasets that might be interesting for them. There is, incorrectly, a perceived lack of hierarchy, clear categorisation and opportunities to provide feedback, which suggests that the respective features are not clearly accessible or communicated. The outcome is that users feel that it difficult to find their way around the portal.
- Editorial part: Editorial content is key in engaging with the community and offers great potential. Users from different skills levels on open data and different backgrounds are interested in different type of content (civil servants vs. researchers, or expert users vs. beginners) and the portal should cater for those different profiles accordingly.
- Statistics and visualisations: For non-expert users, visualisation tools are perceived to be very important to understand data.
- Experience and interaction: Users prefer a two-way stream of communication on the portal (with functionalities such as rating datasets, commenting on articles, sharing etc.) that are similar to their other online experiences.
Overall, users appreciate the services offered by the EDP and will continue to use the portal on a regular basis. However, there is always room for improvement and the EDP team is very thankful for the constructive feedback provided by the respondents. The team responsible for EDP will focus on improving the services and embedding the feedback in the coming months. For additional information on responses, explore the EDP’s slide deck that summarises users’ responses.
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