Christmas came a bit early

We were like kids on Christmas morning when Sarah Winters joined us at our Lab.

If you don’t know super Sarah Winters, Sarah invented content design as a discipline while at GDS. We were beaming.

When Sarah described the old publishing model at DirectGov - what the organisation wanted to say rather than what users needed to know - we couldn’t have nodded along more! We might not have a 74,000 page website as DirectGov did before it was transformed into 3000 page GOV.UK, but ours isn’t far off - and it keeps growing.

Sarah really encouraged us to work in the open as much as possible - open up workflow and governance, user journey maps and user needs, show users struggling to get things done, show evidence of where user-centred design works.

Mapping user journeys

We mapped three journeys:

  • check if you need permission to do something on NRW land
  • apply for permission to do something
  • renew permission to do something

With Richard’s words from last week in mind (‘design in a way that shows high-level concepts but allows for details to be filled in later’), we decided to focus on prototyping both a check and a renew journey but not the apply journey. These would be simpler parts of the service that we could prototype within a couple of days. Both would give us the opportunity to demonstrate some new ideas about how we can capture and use location information, make it easier for users to tell us something, and remind people when they need to do something. Prototyping

We worked in sprints. Owain and Colm worked on the prototype using the GOV.UK kit to build an end to end service on GitHub. Gwen, Laura, Lucinda and Sam co-designed the content for both journeys.

At the close of the day we joined up to two functioning prototypes including:

  • an autocomplete feature so users don’t need to choose from a long list of radio buttons
  • a playback page that can be edited by users if the information they gave earlier was wrong
  • ideas for how we can enable users to tell us about a location in the way they want to: maps, grid reference and postcode

As well as showing how we can use interactive components instead of flat content to help users understand what they need to do, the prototypes contained patterns that could apply to other NRW services.

Other stuff we did that week

We had a Christmas party. This is a next-day picture of us (minus Shaun as he was behind the camera) on Constitution Hill in Aberystwyth. We were enjoying the fresh air and discussing NRW’s pre-application services (honestly, we really were!):

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Constitution Hill is the site of Britain’s second longest funicular railway, by the way.