Following the discovery work on web chat, we’ve moved into alpha. We’re taking a different approach for chat than GOV.UK Pay or GOV.UK Notify - these are components that can be easily incorporated into bigger services.
The chat alpha focuses on creating patterns for services teams to re-use, rather than building another chat product. Given the main cost of implementing web chat is the integration with existing systems, we think in this case that services should buy a web chat product, not build their own.
The patterns will set the standard for ‘what good live chat looks like’ in terms of visual and interaction design, accessibility, security and measuring performance. We hope these patterns will make it easier for service teams to procure and implement live chat.
We’re trying out lots of commercial chat products to see how they work and what can be customised. And we’re carrying out user research every two weeks to see how people react to live chat and to find out how usable chat is in different scenarios. We particularly want to investigate chat on mobiles and tablets, and how to make chat in browsers more accessible to everyone.
Another important part of the project is finding the best ways for contact centres to feedback to service teams. Advisers in contact centres often understand service problems better than most. We want to make it easy for them to share their experience with the teams building and iterating services.
We expect the alpha to run for about 8 weeks. We’ll publish the draft patterns (backed up with research) and post about them on this blog.
Chatting with us
We’ve spoken to quite a few service teams and departments that use live chat for support. We’re hoping to get teams to share their experiences about what's worked well and what hasn’t. Do get in touch if you have findings or insight you can share.
We'd like to work with a government service in beta to see if these patterns measure up and work. If you're working for a service that's getting ready to implement chat as a support channel in the next 3 to 9 months, please email me.
GDS is expanding, and we have a number of positions that need to be filled - especially on the Government as a Platform team. So we’re always on the lookout for talented people. Have a look at our videos describing how we work, our vacancies page, or drop us a line.