Thursday, 7 August 2014

Simplifying user research at the UK Government Digital Service

Head of User Research Lisa Reichelt has written an interesting blog post about how the complexity of problems can be paralysing. She says that when " depends..." comes up, it's potentially over complicating things.

Of course it really does depend on things like context of use, but I take her point and agree with her. We don't do enough user research and dealing with the full complexity of a situation can stop us getting started.

As she says:
It depends is paralysing. It is a stop sign. It tells people they can’t do anything yet. That it is complicated.
Her aim is to get every team involved in development of online government services observing users on a regular basis. It's admirable and of course, essential, if they are to continue to improve the user experience.

It's a challenge because not every team has a lot of user experience expertise. It's easy to be intimidated and put off engagement with users because you're feeling you're not quite ready.

This is a situation we face at the University so this post really struck a chord.

There's nothing new here, but it's good to hear honest reflections from a high profile team. Lisa quotes an excellent article from Jared Spool in which he talks about habits of effective, user focused teams.

This is similar to what Steve Krug says: "Start earlier than makes sense" and "A morning a month, that's all we ask".
Death to it depends - blog post by Lisa Reichelt

Fast Path to a Great UX - Increased Exposure Hours - article by Jared Spool on

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