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Three ways we’ll be supporting the user research community in 2017

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As the head of the user research community at GDS and across government, it’s my job to make sure that government services are built on a deep understanding of users and their needs.

An important part of this is supporting the user research community across departments and agencies. To give them the tools and support they need.

Here are 3 things GDS will be introducing this year to support user researchers across government: new guidance and resources, a new job family and an improved assurance process.

User research guidance and resources

User research takes place across the whole of government. From departments with large and well-established user research communities, to smaller agencies and bodies who may only have one part-time user researcher.

To support user research in all these organisations, regardless of capability, we’ll continue working with the Service Manual and Patterns team to update and improve the user research guidance we provide through the Service Manual.

The first things you’ll see in 2017 will be new guides for the most common user research methods like in-depth interviews, experience mapping and moderated usability testing.

Over the year we’ll continue beyond this guidance with resources like model consent forms, templates for recruitment briefs and discussion guides, and examples of experience maps and personas.

Our aim is to provide a complete, basic toolkit for user researchers in government.

User research job family

We’ve also been working with the Digital, data and technology professions team and heads of user research across government to agree and define the user research job family.

This will help government hire experienced user researchers at an appropriate level, and give user researchers in government a clear career path. It will also help us be more consistent about that across organisations.

The DDaT professions team aim to publish the complete set of job families by the end of March. We’d love your feedback.

With the new Associate user researcher and Junior user researcher levels in the new job family, we’ll make the entry routes into user research clearer and more consistent. And we’ll continue to support the development of new user researchers with training and events.

Assessing user research

The Standards Assurance team are working to improve the way they assure government services. In particular, they are exploring more continuous engagement between assessors and service teams, as an alternative to the current gated process.

User researchers are embedded in the Standards Assurance team to facilitate their discovery and their current alpha.

GDS user researchers are also involved in the alpha as assessors, working with service teams in the new way. We hope this will help us to support user researchers across departments and unblock any problems they are having much earlier.

Through 2017 we’ll continue working with the Standards Assurance team to improve the assurance process, so we can all make better services for people.

You’ll find more about the cross-government user research community in the service manual.

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Featured image drawn by Tara Land.

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