Some of the content designers at GDS have recently worked on making GOV.UK mainstream pensions content clearer, reducing duplication and improving user journeys.
This work’s been informed by research about retirement carried out by the GDS service team, plus research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Google Analytics, and public feedback via Feedback Explorer (‘Feedex’).
What we’ve published so far
Check your State Pension
We’ve updated the starting point of the ‘Check your State Pension’ service. This is is one of the most visited pieces of pensions content on GOV.UK, with approximately 370,000 unique page views a month. Unique page views are the number of sessions in which the page was viewed at least once.
- increasing the prominence of the online service, such as adding a ‘Start now’ button to help users to get their pension forecasts quickly
- clarifying the options available to users who can’t or don’t want to use the online service
- making the language around pension ‘statements’ less confusing
So far we’ve found an increase in the number of users accessing the online service from this page. Looking at the 30 days before the changes were published, approximately 77% of visits saw users click on the ‘Start now’ link. This compares with 70% of visits in the preceding 30 days.
Defer your State Pension
We’ve updated the ‘Defer your State Pension’ guide, as user research showed that people don’t understand pensions deferral. We’ve:
- made it clearer in the title and opening sentence that ‘delaying’ and ‘deferring’ your pension are the same thing
- made it clearer that if you want to defer your pension, do nothing until you want to claim it
- reduced the number of related links
- brought all deferral content into one guide, as there was previously some related deferral information in the ‘new State Pension’ guide
So far we’ve found that for the first chapter of this guide, the bounce rate (the percentage of visits in which someone arrives on an entrance page, then leaves the website without interacting further) fell from 34% in the 30 days before the changes were published, to 19% in the following 30 days.
Although there could be a number of reasons for this, we believe that the increased clarity of the first chapter means it is now more in keeping with what users expect to find when they land there.
The exit rate (the number of exits from the website divided by the number of page views) also fell significantly, indicating that users are more engaged following the changes.
Working after State Pension age
We’ve published a new piece of content, ‘Working after State Pension age’.
User research carried out by the GDS service team with DWP identified a specific user need around users wanting to know what happens to their pension if they keep working past their State Pension age, including related implications on things like tax.
Previously this information was spread out across separate pieces of content. So we created a single page to meet the user need.
Early retirement and your pension
We’ve made some simple changes to ‘Early retirement and your pension’. User research showed that users were unclear about the impact on their benefits if they retire early. So we added a short new chapter to explain this, alongside some smaller improvements, and changed the guide’s title accordingly.
Problems we’ve faced
Most of the changes we wanted to make seemed simple. However, the sheer scale of GOV.UK pensions content and how it all fits together meant that considerable time was needed to do the work.
The complexities around the existing content have also increased the time it’s taken to internally review the new content and get it thoroughly fact checked. Sometimes, content has had to be redrafted more than once in order to get it factually correct while also keeping things clear and simple.
We’ve appreciated the input and time taken by DWP and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), particularly subject matter experts, to support us with this work.
As we’ve been doing the improvement work, it’s also been common to find more problems for users that we were previously unaware of.
So there’s lots more to be done.
As the changes we’ve made so far have been informed by user research, we’d like more follow-up research to be done to help establish how our changes have aided comprehension of this complicated area.
We’ve been working on improving content on workplace pensions, tax and pensions, and personal pensions. We aim to publish this shortly.
We have other pensions improvement jobs in our team’s backlog, and will also look more closely at how users find the information (the navigation, for example).
Ray Khan is a content designer on GOV.UK.