User centred design, coming to a government near you.

The UK government has built a serious design team, with a bias towards user research and a user centred approach.

All signs (Read below) are that our government is taking the same course. This will mean exciting things for the UX design community in New Zealand not if, but when we follow suit…

I’ve just returned from London, working with Government Digital Service, a massive team of researchers, strategists, designers, developers and general smarties with a lofty remit.

  • “To ensure the Government offers world-class digital products that meet people’s needs”
  • “The quality and user centricity of major commercial internet properties should be our minimum goal”
  • “Our aim is to be the unequivocal owner of high quality user experience between people and government”

They’ve literally put the user at the centre of their process, and adopted user research as a core design tool.

Their approach has been boiled down into a beautifully succinct ‘service manual’ which has become required reading for UX people, particularly in the digital field.

Some chapters are: Digital by default –  User Centred Design –   User Needs

Throughout the approach is a strong bias towards user research, with 25 researchers on the team (and growing), tackling every type and method of research I’ve heard of and the ultra broad spectrum of users which is… the UK public, and every way in which they interact with goernment.

This quote from their website demonstrates how committed they are to basing their design work on user research and the needs of their customers:

  • “People come to GOV.UK with specific needs. Anything that gets between our users and meeting those needs should be stripped away”

To achieve this standard, they’ve set 26 Criteria, of which the first is below:

Their work extends way beyond digital into service design and interactions in the built environment, as it should.

So to what degree is this happening in NZ?

Last month an initiative from the DIA came onto my radar…

It’s called Transforming the System of Service Delivery and lays out the same goals and principles as a way to redesign the way services are delivered to Kiwis.

  • “DIA will put the customer at the centre of everything we do “
  • Designing and delivering our products and services around how New Zealanders live their lives: we will develop a deep understanding of what our customers want and need, and work collaboratively to put customers at the centre”

Here’s an illustration of their customer’s world:

I know IRD and the MOJ have some internal capability but when a wide reaching project like this kicks off, our telcos, banks and digital agencies will have to fight even harder for the best UX talent from the tiny pool here in NZ.

and now look what’s been floated by the director of the Design Museum … a Minister for Design.

Exciting times.

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