Travis County
Domestic Violence Awareness

How might we support survivors in getting help online?

About
The Travis County Family Violence Task Force has been active since 1989, but it never had an online presence. They reached out to my team with the goal of creating a website to inform and direct domestic violence survivors to services within Travis County. These services include information about protective orders, safety planning, recognizing abuse, and other Travis County resources.

Role
User Experience Designer
UX Researcher
Service Design

Category
Web Design

Audience
Travis County Constituents & Domestic Violence Survivors
Travis County Attorney's Office & Law Library

Time Period

2022 - 2023

Problem Statement

FamilyViolence_ProblemStatement2
  • Survivors in Travis County struggle with fragmented information spread across various departments on our website, leading to confusion and deterring them from actually seeking help.
  • The creation of a comprehensive website is essential to bridge this gap, consolidate services, and offer timely support.
  • By shifting to a holistic, end-to-end service experience, we can provide seamless support throughout a person’s journey.
  • This requires breaking down government silos and fostering cross-departmental collaboration to provide effective, user-centric services.

Challenges

  • Cross-departmental collaboration: Bringing different departments together for the first time to discuss their services and processes.

  • Introducing discovery UX workshops: Engaging stakeholders in a new workflow to gather insights and define problems.

Goals

I created How Might We (HMW) questions and invited the rest of the team to generate ideas with me. Some of these questions included:

  • How might we support survivors with low digital skills in getting help online?
  • How might we create a holistic, end-to-end service experience for survivors?
  • How might we facilitate cross-departmental collaboration to transform services?
  • How might we shift focus from isolated transactions to comprehensive services as users understand them?

Discovery

Kick-Off Discovery Workshop:

We started with a workshop to understand the real problems and the reasons behind the request for a website. The goals were to learn more about the task force, define the problems, and agree on next steps.

Activities:

  1. Understanding the Audience:
    - What do we know about the audience?
    - What are their needs, interests, characteristics (age, gender, experience, living situation...), reasons to interact with the task force?
    - Participants wrote responses on sticky notes and we grouped them together by theme.

  2. Stakeholder Interviews:
    - How does the task force engage with the public?
    - What services and programs do they refer people to?
    - What tools and resources do they share with victims?

  3. Assumptions Smash:
    - Validate our existing assumptions & extract information from the client
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Research

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Protective Order Service Blueprint Workshop

We brought all stakeholders from different departments into one room (@ the new Travis County Civil and Family Courts Facility!) and we mapped out the process from a survivor’s point of view, capturing the steps they need to take from experiencing violence to obtaining a protective order.

Goals

  • Extract knowledge about protective orders.
  • Consolidate cross-departmental knowledge.
  • Create alignment around the problem space and expose unknowns.

Activities

  • Empathy and Journey Mapping: Captured the survivor’s journey step-by-step, including actions, mindset, and emotions, from start to finish.
  • Service Blueprinting: Documented how different departments support survivors along their journey.

Insights & Findings

  • The services are provided by the Law Library and County Attorney, focusing on obtaining protective orders and safety planning.
  • Stakeholders showed strong interest in consolidating information to create a user-friendly website.

Design

Using our newly created page templates, the team identified the need for 11 new pages covering various topics and resources.

Compromises made:

  • Stakeholders were passionate about including a "Safety Exit" button on the new pages to help survivors quickly exit domestic violence-related content.
  • Although usability studies showed that users did not click on the button frequently, many respondents appreciated its presence.
  • Despite its limited use in tests, the "Safety Exit" button was included based on positive feedback and stakeholder insistence.
  • This button redirects users to the Google News website but does not clear their browser history. 

 

Usability Testing

Goals

Measure user satisfaction and ease of use of existing pages versus the prototype. Evaluate the effectiveness of guiding users through safety planning and obtaining protective orders. Determine if the prototype reduces task completion time.

Methodology

Unmoderated, qualitative usability comparison study using an interactive prototype and the existing website.

Tasks

  • Participants were asked to find information on safety planning and protective orders, then rate their confidence and understanding of the processes.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

Achievements

  • Increase in Page Views and Visitors:Protective Order page views increased from 1,064 to 12,102 and visitors from 693 to 9,855 in the past 12 months.
  • Our team was recognized by the Travis County Commissioners Court during domestic violence awareness month for our work.

Lessons Learned:

  • Cross-departmental collaboration is essential for consolidating fragmented information and improving user experience.
  • Engaging stakeholders early and often is crucial for successful content gathering and alignment.
  • Continuous usability testing and user feedback are vital for ensuring the website meets user needs and expectations.

Stakeholder Impact:

  • Stakeholders can now effectively direct constituents to helpful resources and reference the start-to-finish process for obtaining protective orders.
  • The website significantly improves the task force's capacity to support survivors and fulfill its mission to end the cycle of violence.
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