Agentur für Arbeit

Designing a more approachable government service

Agentur für Arbeit (BA), the German Federal Employment Agency and largest provider of labour market services in Germany, came to Fjord with a simple and straightforward (but at the same time, also challenging and transformative) request: “We want a new website where everything is accessible within three clicks. The search function needs to just be relevant and better. That is all.”

The original site had more than 20 different pages without a single, unified design approach, a consolidated content strategy, nor a clear wayfinding mechanism. Instead, users were left to fend for themselves in each scenario, often with no idea how to tackle their individual cases – i.e. which documents were needed, where to find the correct forms, how to filter through the information to find what they needed, etc. It was sensory overload without any guidance and a setup that set the audience up for failure.

People today are constantly connected, and they expect to be able to find anything and everything online, quickly and easily. And government services are not immune – hiding behind complexities is no longer acceptable.

Customers want to live in a seamless world in which desired information is a click away. As a result, companies have begun tailoring their offerings to meet those needs and refining them even further based on usage patterns. According on our research:

Overall, customers expect every company or government service to behave as one, no matter the touchpoints.

Be available and accessible for the people

Because there were no actual comparable competitors in this public market space at the time, it was easy for BA to dismiss the increasing changes happening around it. But within the private sector, things were different, with companies like LinkedIn and Xing capturing market share with their accessibility for customers.

To meet that crucial user need within BA, we undertook the daunting task of restructuring not just its content management system, but also its entire way of thinking.

Our mission was to design for the people, and we did that by first identifying possible life situations that would direct the user’s behavior and provoke him/her to search for various kinds of information. For most people, the BA is an unpleasant necessity they must tolerate – imagine the stress of losing your job and requiring immediate financial support and help. They need an overview of what the next steps are and how to get there, and the process should be easy and informative, without overwhelming them with unnecessary bits and pieces.

Reach the end goal by transforming the client from within

After several design thinking workshops, trends and content analyses, user journeys, persona realizations via empathy mapping,  and the definition of current and future capabilities, we could identify a common future goal for BA: to be personal, serve user needs first, and give its “client” the feeling of being taken care of. In simpler language: to be where the users are.

Together with Accenture, we restructured how BA approached content, measured information based on relevance, and united its portal. Our main goal was to redesign public services and lead the industry standard toward a more user-centered mindset. That also meant forming new departments at the BA to be responsible for managing the online content. Additionally, a new CMS system will now offer more insights and further continue the integration of all sites within the new portal.

With rapid prototyping and agile design sprints, we showed tangible results and provided the internal business case for funding the project, as well as aligning key stakeholders to make this a success. We look forward to future collaborations with BA to bring these essential government services home to the people.