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Case study—

Helping small businesses as they grow and navigate government



    How might we help small businesses thrive?


    Packaging and demystifying important information with content, tools and resources to make business easier

Small businesses are a keystone of the New Zealand economy. They make up 97% of businesses and over a quarter of the nation’s GDP.

Empathy first partnered with business.govt.nz — the government website for small businesses — in 2009. At the time, the website was essentially a five-page link farm harvesting content from other government sites.

Business.govt.nz was eager to work with Empathy to enrich its offerings to help small businesses navigate the government, grow and succeed.

Designing for small business pain points and motivations

Our initial in-depth research into business.govt.nz’s core customers helped us to develop realistic personas and informed our recommendations for what the website and the brand should be. This foundation customer insight supported business.govt.nz’s high-level strategy to bridge the gap between small businesses and government.

In early 2014, Empathy took over the role of business.govt.nz’s content partner. We now drive their customer-centric research, design and delivery.

Business.govt.nz has now embedded a human-centered design process — from deep ethnographic research projects to developing targeted content on a wide range of topics small businesses care about.

Empathy’s writers deliver a range of online assets to suit the needs of different kinds of learners, including:

  • tools to take on key tasks, like the Employment Agreement Builder
  • interactive quizzes
  • visual guides
  • written content
  • videos.

We have since taken a leading role in refining the site’s information architecture and redesigning a new website.

Customer interactions soar

Today, business.govt.nz is a comprehensive resource that speaks to small businesses at every stage, from startup to exit, and in their language. A majority of small business owners increasingly turn to business.govt.nz as a primary resource.

Visitor traffic has tripled since 2014 and continues to rise. Site satisfaction rates sit above 80%.