Creating more intuitive website experiences

LATTE is a software tool that deciphers patterns in how people interact with websites, in order to improve the customer experience.

The Challenge

Poor web experiences drive customers away

More than three quarters of Australians prefer to access services electronically. Web content offers greater control and consistency when it comes to disseminating public service information, however a frustrating online experience can drive customers away for life.

In order to provide effective services, government departments and agencies must be able to offer efficient, user-friendly digital channels.

Our Response

Introducing LATTE

The Federal Government Department of Human Services sought to optimise its extremely complex and well-trafficked website, in order to ensure customers would find it an efficient experience.

To do so, the department deployed LATTE, a software tool we developed to decipher patterns in how people interact with websites. Unlike most conventional web analytics tools, LATTE compares the sequence and duration of page visits to patterns that denote user frustration or an inability to easily find information (like jumping to a Google search after loading four or five pages in succession).

Latte: LATTE can decipher patterns in how people interact with websites.

Show transcript

[Music plays and text appears:  Improving web experience with a shot of LATTE] 

[Image changes to show Dr Tom Rowlands, Software Engineer, CSIRO] 

Dr Tom Rowlands:  LATTE is a software tool that uses people’s interactions with websites to see whether they’re getting the information they need or whether they’re getting frustrated and possibly going somewhere else. 

[Image changes to show someone using an iPad and camera zooms in on the Department of Human Services website] 

This tool allows DHS to optimise their website to make sure as many Australians as possible can find out that information online and don’t have to make a call or go to the shopfront. 

[Image changes to show Denise Blayden, Director, Digital Design and Integration Branch, Department of Human Services] 

Denise Blayden:  We want to shift customers into the digital space for the transactions that they can do there.  It frees us up to spend more time with customers with higher needs. 

[Image changes to show people working at computers in an office setting, of the LATTE software in use on screen] 

Dr Tom Rowlands:  The tool uses the DHS web server logs.  We’re able to extract those, put them through our tool, and then the web designers can see where people are using their time, where they’re going round in circles where they might be going off to Google and coming back again or going off to another search engine and coming back again.

[Images changes to show someone searching Google for ‘age pension’ on screen, of the Centrelink Log-on screen, of someone searching Bing for ‘age pension’ on screen, of Google again and Centrelink again, then of people using telecommunications/internet devices on the go] 

And by taking those signals and doing some analysis we can determine where people are frustrated or where they’re satisfied with the information that they’ve found.  So LATTE goes beyond just the analytics and the mechanics and tells you more than other tools.  It tells you about experiences that users are having with the website. 

[Image changes to show people using computers in office settings, typing on keyboards] 

This tool would be perfect for anywhere anyone wants to find information on a website, so that’s intranet, government departments, anywhere where people are looking for information on a website.  It’s also beyond other things that we’ve done here before, it’s beyond ‘search’, this is about interaction. 

[Image changes back to Dr Tom Rowland and then changes to show someone navigating the Centrelink website to find various services] 

This tool makes sure that DHS can see where their website might need refinement or where there’s some terms they’re using might need to be slightly changed, just to make their website easier to use for as many people as possible.  The main benefit is that people are able to find the right information faster. 

[Text appears with CSIRO and Department of Human Services logos:  The Human Services Delivery Research Alliance used innovative technologies, research and approaches to support an evidence-based, sustainable national service delivery program] 

[Music plays and CSIRO logo appears with text: Big ideas start here]

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Doing so allows the software to detect not only when, but why people encounter trouble with finding certain information on a website – revealing the direct impact of vocabulary choice, page hierarchy, and other contextual elements on the effectiveness of online channels.

Show text description

LATTE distils all this data from the standard log files captured on any web server, mitigating many of the potential data privacy concerns that the department might have otherwise faced.

This also meant the software could be rolled out at scale with minimal change to existing IT systems: an initial prototype was operating across all Human Services data sets within several months of the project first being floated.

The Results

A faster, easier customer experience

Today, the department's web developers and administrators use LATTE as a part of their workflow, accessing it through a web browser plugin that displays real-time findings and potential 'trouble spots' based on the software's back-end analytics.

The plugin, which came about through an iterative design process led by our researchers, allows department personnel to adapt their online content and structure in response to LATTE's analytics reports.

With no other tool providing the same balance between scalability and accuracy of web experience tracking, our researchers are now developing a number of commercial solutions based on LATTE, including cloud-based services for both private and public-sector agencies.


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