Making administrative information accessible to the most vulnerable citizens

Challenge

The French Department of Legal and Administrative Information in charge of the service-public.fr website, always looking for a wider accessibility, had launched an experiment to make the contents of this reference website more accessible to the most fragile citizens, the most distant from the administration.

Our role was to capitalize on the new mock-up of their website already created by their teams and other service providers, to carry out a diagnosis and to bring concrete recommendations to improve its accessibility thanks to a crossed expertise in Legal Design & Neurosciences, in partnership with Dominique Ashby.

Process

The project team had already conducted fieldwork with users, identifying four profiles that most needed support on the service-public.fr website: administrative phobics, seniors, people with difficulties with the French language, and people in precarious situations.
We have carried out a benchmark of the best examples of sites providing access to legal and administrative information in the world.

Taking into account the specific characteristics of these personas, and in particular their strong need for reassurance, our priority was to make these users feel at ease in their dealings with the site through language and UX design: highlighting the official nature of the site, redrafting the text in plain and inclusive language, and ensuring even smoother navigation to allow greater accessibility. We also trained the service-publics.fr editors, who were already convinced and had good expertise, to go even further in plain legal language.

Result

A new design for the service-public.fr website that reflects the strong need for human support for the target audience, and that takes into account the cognitive limitations of users who do not trust their own ability to understand information and, above all, to act on what they have understood.

Our recommendations therefore aimed to simplify the user experience of the site as much as possible, to avoid information overload that is detrimental to cognition, and to make the use of the services more reassuring: A uniform UX design across the stages (fonts, colors, action buttons, menus), a sparse page containing little information on first reading to lighten the cognitive load, the use of the pronoun “I”, inserts identifying essential information such as “to know”, or the creation of a welcome message “The information that concerns you” to reassure the user in their approach.

As an official government website, we have to address all users of service-public.fr so that they can know their rights and find navigate administrative information. It is therefore essential that the language we use is accessible to all.
Barbara Khayat – Head of the French Department of Legal and Administrative Information
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