Getting started with user research workshop recording

The workshop that Lizzie and I delivered went down pretty well, I think. You can find out for yourself by watching it back.

It’s a quick canter through different methods of undertaking user research, aimed at those new to the whole idea. I think user research is a super-important thing for digital teams to get involved with as quickly as possible, because it’s a cultural game changer. If you want to be more user-centric in your work, there’s no better way of doing it than actually speaking to, and understanding, your users.

As well as watching the video, you can:

  1. Download the slides
  2. Read the questions and answers that didn’t get looked at in the workshop
  3. Read the chat notes from the session
  4. Listen to the audio

Lizzie also has some fab stuff that will help you on your user-centred design journey:

FREE online workshop: getting started with user research

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

This workshop is free for public sector people. Please use your work email address to make it easy to recognise you!

It’s happening on Thursday 16 December, 12pm on Zoom.

User research is one of the most important stages of any successful digital project. However it often gets missed, and that’s often because people just aren’t used to doing it.

Involving service users in research and testing is a big cultural change for organisations, and takes a fair bit of confidence to start doing for the first time.

In this workshop, Lizzie Bruce from Cake Consultancy joins me to introduce common user research methods, as well as some less well known ones.

We will also talk through how to arrange user research sessions for the first time – where to host them, how to recruit users, how to record sessions and turn them into actionable insights.

At the end of the workshop you will feel more confident about:

  1. Including user research activities as part of your digital project
  2. Choosing the best user research methods to meet your objectives
  3. Setting up your user research sessions, in terms of location, equipment and practicalities
  4. Finding and recruiting users for your research
  5. Turning your research into actionable insights

Don’t delay, book today!

5 videos to help leaders understand digital

Following on from the workshop I ran with LGiU last week on digital for leaders (which went very well, thank you for asking), I shared a few bits with the delegates – further reading, if you will.

Part of that was a set of videos on YouTube that cover some of the important areas that folk in senior positions really need to understand, delivered by people with far greater expertise than me.

Here they are – try and get them in front of your senior leadership team, if you can, and book in a chat with them shortly afterwards to help them apply it to your organisational context!

1. Digital Government: Not Complicated, Just Hard – Tom Loosemore

2. Applying digital to everything – Janet Hughes

3. Situation Normal, Everything Must Change – Simon Wardley

4. Human-Centered Data Transformation – Kit Collingwood

5. Designing government services that meet user needs – Martin Jordan

Workshop recording: simple service discovery

Here’s the recording of the workshop I ran this morning which looked at using a simple template to find out more about the service we are looking to digital redesign.

We used the example of reporting fly tipping, as well as having a general chat towards the end about how best to engage with service managers when embarking on transformation work.

As well as watching the video, you can:

  1. Download the slides
  2. Find the template on Google Drive
  3. See our fly tipping example
  4. Read the chat notes from the session

If you have any topics you’d like to be covered in a future workshop, just let me know!

FREE online workshop: quick and easy service discovery

Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

Following on from my last workshop on the matching user needs to technology capabilities process, here’s the next one, this time talking through service discovery, based on the ideas and template shared in this blog post. The workshop will be free and for public sector people only.

The workshop will run on Zoom on Wednesday, October 27 at 11am. I anticipate it will last around 45 minutes, but keep an hour free just in case.

At the end of the workshop, you will be able to:

  • use the process to identify services that are ripe for digital transformation
  • engage service owners in a conversation about how their services can be redesigned
  • begin to think about a service’s user needs
  • identify early technology opportunities within a service
  • document all of this in a nice template, courtesy of me

The running order is as follows:

  • Intros
  • Quick bit of background about when this process can be used and what for
  • Running through an example, using the template live
  • Discussion and questions about taking it forward in practice

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? So what are you waiting for?

If it is any consolation for those that can’t make it, I will be sharing a recording here on SensibleTech 😀

Workshop recording: matching user needs with technology capabilities

Here’s the recording of the workshop I ran earlier today on using a process and template to help match user needs to technology capabilities. We worked through the example of an intranet and there was lots of interesting discussions as everyone chipped in through the session.

🖥️ View and download the slides

📄 View and download the template

I think this way of running short, focused online sessions works pretty well, and I will definitely be doing more in the future!

LocalGovDrupal with Kate Hurr and Will Callaghan

LocalGovDrupal is an open source implementation of the classic Drupal content management system hat has been developed by councils for councils, with the help of some funding from MHCLG.

It is, by my reckoning, the best example I have seen of open source use in local government, largely because councils are contributing to the project as well as consuming it.

16 councils are now involved and conservative estimates calculate that millions of pounds have been saved compared to using commercial off the shelf alternatives.

What is great is that councils are using those savings to invest in other things to make their websites better, like content design and user research.

Will Callaghan has been the main driver of the project and he gives us some of the background, while Kate Hurr talks about the progress Cumbria Council are making in implementing LocalGovDrupal. We also talk a little bit about pies! 🥧

I honestly can’t praise this project enough, I think it’s brilliant, and a wonderful example of the benefits of open, collaborative working, and sharing and re-use of technology across the sector.

To find out how to get involved, drop the team a line using

If you’d prefer to listen to just the audio, give this a go.

Quick and easy service discovery (with template)

Quick and easy service discovery
Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

This is a nice and easy framework to use when you find yourself needing to do a quick service discovery to find out some basic details about a service and how it can be transformed.

The point at which you might want to use this is right at the start of your digital work, when you either:

  • need to identify a service to work with
  • or have decided which service to work with already, but need to gather some up front information on what you’re dealing with

Whichever way you use it, you’ll find it a really helpful way to have a meaningful conversation with the service owner, that will help you get on the same page really quickly.

Here’s the template:

A preview of the service discovery template

How to use the template

Some quick notes on how to use this – although remember, you are free to do what you like with it!

  • Replace <Name of service> with… oh, you know surely
  • You can delete the link to this post to protect your reputation if you like
  • Add a quick summary of what the purpose of service is – both in terms of the user need and what the organisation needs to achieve
  • Consider the components of the service (whether tech or process based). Leave ticks for those that are needed and crosses for those which aren’t
  • How is the service currently delivered? Again, leave ticks and crosses in the right places
  • Think about the users of the service. Are they
    • Everyday residents?
    • People running their own businesses?
    • Professionals working alongside the organisation, perhaps solicitors, architects, or folk from other public services?
    • Politicians, whether at a local or national level
    • As well as doing the tick and cross thing, add the number of people who use the service every month, to get an idea of the size of this thing
  • Finally do some quick analysis on three criteria:
    • What would the level of benefit be to the end user if we transformed this service? Green for lots, red for little, amber for somewhere in the middle
    • What would the level of benefit be to the organisation (savings, happier staff etc) if we transformed this service? Green for lots, red for little, amber for somewhere in the middle
    • How hard would it be to transform this service? Green for easy, red for nightmare, amber for somewhere in the middle

If you are running this exercise before choosing which service to transform, this analysis will help you decide whether a particular service is a good candidate. If you’ve already fixed on a service to transform, the outcome of this might a) change your mind; or b) decide how to approach it.

Hopefully this comes in handy! Let me know if so 🙂

FREE online workshop: Matching user needs with tech capabilities

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

A while ago I shared a post with a template showing how you can take a capability-based approach to picking technology by focusing on user needs.

There has been a fair bit of interest in it since it was published, so I thought it might be useful to run a short online workshop running through how it works with a smallish group of people. As I have at this stage no real idea what I am doing, it will be free for public sector people.

The workshop will run on Zoom on Wednesday, September 15 at 11am. I anticipate it will last around 45 minutes, but keep an hour free just in case.

At the end of the workshop, you will be able to:

  • Understand the benefits of approaching technology decision making through capabilities
  • Understand the core ideas around user needs and how they should impact technology choices
  • Confidently run your own workshops following the process in your own work
  • Come up with loads of ways to improve the whole thing!

The running order is as follows:

  • Quick intro to the session and what we will cover
  • Everyone says hi (and I’ll probably ask a silly question about your favourite something or other)
  • I’ll run through the idea behind the process and template and what it is meant to achieve
  • We will work through the example of the intranet as used in the blog post
  • We will then work through an example or two that people on the session suggest – hopefully real scenarios they are currently dealing with

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? So what are you waiting for?

Don’t worry if you can’t make it, I will be sharing a recording here on SensibleTech!

Creating simple user personas

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Personas are a great place to start with user centred design, particularly if the whole practice is new to your organisation. This is because they can provide a quick and cheap way of ensuring your project puts the different types of user at the heart of your service design process.

Personas are fictional representations of the different types of potential users of your service. Well written ones can bring the important user types to life, which is why it helps to make them as realistic as possible. They also help to give the project team focus, by constantly reminding them of what really matters to their users. Finally, they are a great way of engaging stakeholders with your work, introducing personality and something relatable.

They can have their downsides though:

  • often personas aren’t based on user research, but assumptions
  • they can sometimes focus on what user’s want rather than what they need
  • they can get stale quickly – don’t fall into the trap of not updating them or using the same personas over and over again
  • They should not be the only form of user centred design that is used in a project – personas are not a shortcut or a tick in a box

So make sure you use them properly, and most importantly of all – do your research first!

To make your life easier, here is a simple template to use for your user personas. Feel free to amend it in any way you like to make it work for you.

Hope it’s useful!