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User-centered design. Who gets it?

In this blog, Principal Consultant Lucille Harvey, and Head of Public Sector Delivery Jack Holland talk about the power of user-centered design.

The Government Transformation Summit is an annual affair. Organised by Government Transformation Magazine, it is billed as the “Annual Summit for Civil Service Leaders”. With a mixture of talks, discussion tables and networking opportunities, it encourages debate around the mission-critical goals faced by over 300 central and local government leaders of Operations, Data, Services and HR from the UK and overseas.

User-centered design… a discussion

We hosted a Triad sponsored discussion table with Tomasz Rychter from the Centralny Ośrodek Informatyki in Poland and Paul Moran from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. We met with delegates from as far and wide as HMRC, DEFRA, IPO, DVSA, Post Office, CQC and Local Authorities.

These discussions helped us realise that:

  • Despite the barriers, there is a genuine desire to create user-centric technology.
  • User-centric design can de-risk delivery, particularly if used at the policy making stage and before digital delivery.
  • There is a want and need for this user-centric design mindset to be present at all levels of decision making.
  • Senior leaders within government organisations are interested and engaged in the topic of user-centric design. They get it.

Case study central

Littered throughout a day of networking and discussion tables were several quality talks. Presenters used case studies to illustrate how technology engages citizens, builds trust, and re-thinks citizen services. Two talks in particular stood out.

Using technology to prepare for an emergency

Of the many topics we had expected to hear about, a talk about technology in Canadian agriculture was definitely not one of them. But it was fascinating!

Canadian based Shankar Narayan is charged with implementing the Digital and Data strategy to advance the ‘growth, sustainability and competitiveness’ of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector. And when you think about it, the link between technology and the environment makes sense.

Around the world, critical emergency events are increasing in frequency, intensity, and impact. From wildfires, droughts and heat waves to animal and plant diseases. And each one can have a significant impact on supply chains and trade.

Shankar explained how the move towards digitisation of data in recent years, along with emerging technologies and digital solutions, has offered an opportunity to develop better frameworks and tools and deliver real-time data.  This can help governments and the private sector prepare to respond to emergencies.

It was an impactful story about building resilience through digital transformation.

Using technology to deal with an emergency

Another story that impacted us was about the app Diia. Diia provides Ukrainian citizens with a digital ID and allows them to register a business or obtain dozens of other government services without waiting in line or being asked to pay a bribe, an all-too-common occurrence.

Ukrainians can use Diia to seek evacuation assistance or file a claim if their home is damaged by Russian shelling. Nearly 1 million war bonds have been purchased using the app. Using an “e-Enemy” feature, they can submit reports and videos of Russian troop movements. And it has broader uses, too. When millions of Ukrainians faced blackouts during the World Cup final in December, the government streamed the match live on Diia. More than 1 million people tuned in.

Nineteen million Ukrainians now use Diia on their smartphones. And we could see why. It is the ultimate citizens’ app. New features are added regularly, and every government ministry now has a ‘chief digital transformation officer’ to push that process along.

Inspired and empowered

For two people who walked in wanting to talk about user-centric design, we walked out inspired by the power of putting the user at the centre of design. Everyone we spoke to understood the impact that user-centric design can have. It made us reflect on the real problem. The mindset isn’t the challenge anymore. The challenge is actually doing it.

We hope that you have found this blog useful. If you are interested in user-centric design or have a question for the Triad UX team, please get in touch.