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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.