Research summary: Travel advice and advisories

November 1, 2019

The travel advice and advisories optimization project took place from January to March 2019. The goal was to make it easier for Canadians to find and understand the travel advice and guidance available on The project team was co-led by the Treasury Board Secretariat Digital Transformation Office (DTO), and Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

It also included GAC’s partners in delivering travel-related content:

What made this project stand out

Mobile access

Analytics told us that Canadians increasingly use their mobile devices to access travel information on For this reason, both baseline and prototype testing focused on mobile use. Test participants either used their own device, or resized their desktop browser to simulate a mobile interface.

Communicating risks

Travelling has a degree of risk. Most travellers take routine precautions against familiar risks, like theft or injury. The Government of Canada can’t prevent Canadians from travelling, but has an obligation to protect them from harm. We inform Canadians when they should change their routine behaviour or avoid travel altogether to stay safe. It’s critical that we design web pages that clearly and succinctly convey both the nature and the level of risk. To do this, the project team designed a new page template for destinations. The design prioritizes “must know” risks using a new alert pattern and a carefully curated short list of important points.

Encouraging people to look at both generic and destination-specific advice

There are many pages in the travel section of that provide general advice. This includes guidance on travel documents, travelling with children or pets, travel insurance and vaccinations. Often destination-specific pages duplicated this content. Testing uncovered a persistent challenge where people found general advice and assumed they had all the information they needed to make decisions about travelling. They were missing critical destination-specific advice. To address this we removed duplicate “generic” advice from destination-specific pages. We linked to it instead. We also grouped content differently on the navigation. We increased the visibility of topics such as “Planning your trip” and added a “Before you go” checklist. These changes helped people navigate more effectively between both types of advice.

Travel advice redesign
Redesign of the travel advice page used in validation testing.

Establishing a baseline

In the baseline study, 19 Canadian travellers performed 147 tests on the live travel pages. The overall success rate was 23%.

The most common problems participants encountered were:

Designing for user success

Intensive workshops with the extended project team helped us to deliver a prototype with significant improvements.

These included:

Measuring success rates on the redesigned prototype

The team tested the redesigned prototype with a new set of 19 Canadian travellers. They performed 146 tests of the same task scenarios as in the baseline testing. Our target was either 80% success or an improvement of at least 20 points over the baseline score. The revised content and design improved findability rates from 49% to 88% (+39% pts). Overall task success rose from 23% to 72% (+49% pts).

This chart shows a comparison of task success rates between the baseline and validation tests for all 38 participants.

Task completion success rates – table
Task Baseline Validation
Idonesia + codeine 17% 53%
Malawi + advice 21% 84%
Spain + lost passport 37% 53%
Cuba + health insurance 16% 63%
Cayman Islands + hurricanes 32% 78%
Travel checklist 11% 100%
London appointment 12% 58%
Costa Rica + yellow fever 41% 71%
Cambodia + advisory 21% 37%

Key drivers of success

The features of the prototype that had the biggest impact on success rates were:

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