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Right from the start of the births, deaths and marriages (BDM) project, the team has been totally user-focused. As the analytics specialist for the team I helped them use Google Analytics to understand user needs. We also talked to colleagues from the BDM call centre about how we could help users the most. Our recent blog post, New templates for new content, talks about the call centre insights from the discovery phase. In that post we looked at the difficulty people experience when trying to find information about getting married. Let’s see if things have improved one month after launch.

All marriage information in one place

From the workshop with our BDM call centre colleagues, it was clear that people didn’t know what they needed to do to get married in New Zealand. This information was scattered all over the place and it was difficult to get the complete picture. So the team created a step-by-step guide: How to get married in NZ. It’s been four weeks since traffic was redirected from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) pages (now deleted) to the new how to get married pages, so we can look to see whether this content is performing as intended.

Image of the new step-by-step guide ‘How to get married in NZ’, including steps ‘Decide how’, and ‘Arrange a marriage licence’.

It’s the most popular marriage page on, and has already received 7,000 unique page views. The page is designed to give people an overview of all the tasks they need to complete when getting married, with links to detailed information on other pages. Data shows that people are engaging with the content the way we expected.

The number of people who only visit this one page on – this is called the 'bounce rate' – is really low at 15%; for overall it’s 57%. People who visit the page spend an average of 6 minutes on the site and visit 5 pages; the average is 2 minutes on site and 2 pages per session. Only 50 people searched on the page, which suggests that people are finding what they need within the new content.

Table showing high engagement figures for bounce rate, average time on site, and number of pages per session for the 'How to get married in NZ' audience compared with overall figures. Numbers are outlined in text above.

Table showing high engagement for the 'How to get married in NZ' audience.

More people are finding out about how to get married overseas

Our call centre colleagues also told us that people frequently asked how to get married overseas because they couldn't find the information on the DIA website. So the content team published the page Getting married overseas. It’s had 1,700 unique page views in the last four weeks, up 70% on the equivalent page last year. We’ve also got insight about how to improve the page – there were 15 searches for ‘certificate of no impediment’ on this page, so we’ll look at including this information.

Divorce content that crosses agency divides

People thought that they’d get information about divorce from BDM. We found this out because there were lots of searches for divorce on the old website - almost 200 searches over a four-week period. But this service is provided by the Ministry of Justice and the old site didn’t provide this content.

We’ve got a section called Separating or getting a divorce on The pages in this section received 6,000 unique page views in four weeks, and searches for 'divorce' have dropped 40% from on compared to the DIA pages that were replaced. By providing cross-government services we’re able to give people what they need, regardless of agency divides.

New Registry Office information

People couldn’t find information about Registry Offices, particularly:

  • locations
  • contact information
  • what to expect from a Registry Office wedding.

The team created the Find a Registry Office landing page which lets people search for Registry Offices by location. This landing page got 2,000 unique page views, and the results pages got 3,000 unique page views. These figures suggest that people are using the finder successfully. Onsite searches for ‘registry office’ have dropped 70% on compared to the DIA pages that were replaced, showing that we’re fulfilling more of this demand.

Increase in onsite searches for ‘marriage certificate’

We didn’t got everything right the first time. Three weeks after content had been redirected we found that 140 people had searched for ‘marriage certificate’ on the BDM topics page, which was up 90% compared to the DIA pages that were replaced. We’d put a link to How to get married in NZ at the top of the page thinking that would cover off this need, but clearly people want to go straight to a page about getting a certificate. So the team included a link to the page:

Image of the new ‘Get a marriage certificate’ link that the team have added to the top left-hand side of the BDM organisation page.

New link to 'Get a marriage certificate' added to the BDM organisation page.

These are just some of the improvements we’ve made to BDM content on Engaging with call centre colleagues from the start was crucial to the success of content, and now we’re able to validate content and design decisions with web analytics data. We’ve come a long way from looking at Google searches, and we’re learning more about our audience in order to continuously improve our site. Publishing content is only the beginning.

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