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User research with service teams for GOV.UK Notify

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photo of the agile wall in the GOV.UK Notify team which states 'team interviews 59, pop-up sessions 19, user testing lab sessions 16, site visits with teams 8, live beta partners 0'.

As government user researchers we’re familiar with how to do research with citizens. But as we build more tools and products for digital teams, many of us find ourselves working on something where the end users are service teams, not citizens.

This can be a challenging mental shift and it can be difficult to know where to start when we can no longer rely on familiar methods used for citizen research.

Service teams are the main users of GOV.UK Notify and our research goal is to identify their needs.

Over the last few months we’ve developed a framework for conducting research within government. We’re iterating this framework, and as we move into public beta we’ll blog more about our approach and the challenges we face. In the meantime I wanted to share some techniques that have worked well for us.

Recruiting internal participants

Citizens are usually incentivised to participate in research sessions but recruiting internally is different. We generated interest with a blog post and developed a pipeline to move service teams through different pieces of research. Now we have a pool of people who have progressed from initial telephone interviews to potential beta partners.

Developing a research wall

The research wall is not a new method for internal research, but it’s now become central to the way we plot our progress and share our findings.

It’s a clearly visible dashboard that shows what research questions we’re answering and where the gaps are. Although user researchers curate the wall, it’s become a resource for the whole GOV.UK Notify team.

Researching in context

In most cases, we anticipate that GOV.UK Notify will be used by several different people within a service team.

It’s important we understand the workflow as users dip in and out according to their roles. We want to see what happens when people are sitting at their desks and using GOV.UK Notify. So one of our research methods is to visit service teams on site. By doing so we get a better understanding of the needs of everyone in the team.

Over a series of blog posts we'll go into more detail about the framework we’ve developed. We hope that our findings will be useful for other researchers who are helping build tools for service teams.

If you work in a service team and are interested in using GOV.UK Notify, let us know.

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