City Uni talk: User-centred government links

Hi everyone!

Thank very much for your time yesterday. I really enjoyed visiting City Uni again.

I mentioned a lot of different websites and links. If anyone wanted to read more about those thing,  here are some links to the things I mentioned.

Home Office Digital Data and Technology

If you’re interested in reading more about the work we do in Home Office Digital Data and Technology have a look at our department blog.

I mentioned the Electronic Visa Waiver project I worked on for citizens from Kuwait, UAE, Oman, and Qatar and how we launched the service using a “private-beta”. This allowed us to do summative usability testing, of the whole system, end-to-end. I wrote a short blogpost about the project. It mentions some of the real-world “aaaagggggggh” moments.

Kate Tarling head of service design in the Home Office wrote a really good blogpost on what service design is and what service designers do in government.

User centred government

If you’re interested in learning more about how user centred design is done in government, these links might be useful.

Wikipedia have a good article explaining what GDS is and where it came from.

The most useful things produced by GDS are the GOV.UK Service manual. This is like the user centred design “playbook” for people working in government. It’s a great mine of knowledge to combine with your HCI knowledge.

The other useful thing GDS have produced is the GDS Service Standards.

We use these as the required criteria we have to meet when we build “a thing”. There are 18 points we have to meet. They are the carrot and stick for us.

The GDS Design notes blog  is a really useful blog if you’re interested in interaction design.

The GDS Research blog is really useful if your interested in learning about our work understanding users.

Agile and government

As I mentioned we try to work using agile development methods. The service manual has a good introduction to agile government development.

Again the GDS Service Manual has a good explanation of the different phases of a project, from how each phase works,  from the discovery phase, to alpha, to beta, until live phase.

Some of the evaluations we use

Heuristic evaluations

We use Jakob Nielsen’s 10 heuristics for user interface design. I also mentioned we use a modified version of these for doing access needs and accessibility heuristics evaluation. They were put together by Judith Fellowes.

Content evaluation

A really handy, useful way to evaluate language is putting it in front of the user, and ask them to highlight with one highlighting pen the words that are important, and – with another pen the words that they don’t understand.

Pete Gale wrote a great blogpost explaining how he used this technique in testing content with users.

There are a number of useful automated applications to evaluate content. gives you a baseline readability level of paragraphs of text.

There’s also an app called Hemmingway App which does a similar thing to

You can also use Google Trends to see if the words being tested are actually words that users use.

Get in touch

If you’re interested in anything here, get in touch!

Leave a comment here (down there at the end) , or you can get me on Twitter or email.


2 responses to “City Uni talk: User-centred government links”

  1. Jenifer Klepfer Avatar
    Jenifer Klepfer

    Thank you for your talk at City and for your time writing up this post. Helpful!

    1. bernard Avatar

      Hi Jenifer,

      You’re most welcome! If you have any other questions, let me know.

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