This week I visited the Swiss government to talk about how we do user research for GOV.UK. And to explain how we foster a user-centred culture in GDS and across government by getting everyone involved in user research.
My presentation was part of a conference in Bern attended by people from the Swiss government and from other governments across Europe. As well as sharing GDS’s expertise, I met people from the canton of Geneva. They were keen to explain how they are using what we learnt developing GOV.UK in their own transformation project.
Embedding user research in teams
While I was planning my trip to Switzerland, I started to think about where GDS started and how far we’ve come in our understanding and adoption of user-centred design. There are a lot of things we’ve accepted and we just do now at GDS. We have user researchers as part of agile teams, for example. That's part of our DNA.
Regular user research gives perspective
But there are some things that we need to continually remind ourselves to do. And if we don’t, we'll just forget. Like the benefits of everyone seeing 2 hours of user research every 6 weeks.
We’re fighting against entropy. Our natural state can be to look inwards, towards our teams, not outwards towards our users. A regular dose of user research reminds us why we're all doing this. And it’s important that everyone participates! There's really no better way to get your head above the grind and get some perspective.
2 hours every 6 weeks
So we’ve dusted off the posters, to remind ourselves and the teams we work in: 2 hours every 6 weeks.
My challenge to you is to make sure the people on your bank of desks, your leadership team, and your developers are all getting their 2 hours. Let’s make this part of our DNA.
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Featured image by GDS, Two hours every six weeks.
Comment by Rodge posted on
Quick question: What's the average number of hours of observer-friendly research (e.g. done at the lab, remote but streamed to a conference room so anyone can drop in to participate) are done at GDS? I see that 2 hours every 6 weeks seems a good number, but if the research schedule is tight, let's say every Thursday/Friday for example, then there might be logistical issues to those who want to attend.
Comment by Katie Taylor posted on
Most of the user research we do is observer-friendly, but it might not be possible to invite the whole team to every session. For example, taking one person from the team along to an in-home interview with a childminder, and the next week getting the whole team to come along to usability testing in a lab. Where we are doing research that can accommodate a lot of people, other teams are welcome to come along, which helps reach the goal!