My team, Employment & Skills has been working with ICT to design a new digital service for employment and opportunities. We’d been asking for a microsite to advertise training and job opportunities and got stuck in a debate about branding. So we were intrigued when colleagues in ICT suggested taking a different approach.
We began by taking part in a collaborative workshop where we mapped the users of the service, sketched some personas and developed a vision statement for the project. We then dived into interviewing users to find out what they wanted from the service, and what they get from a large range of existing providers.
I particularly enjoyed mapping the customer journey. The ICT team gave us a template, and we found Smaply, an online tool that produced some beautiful maps. It was so much easier than working with Visio – and produced a common tool that we could all understand.
The project has moved at pace, working in fortnightly cycles. They team has been brilliant in helping us make sure the development of the website prioritises users’ needs: maximising the efficiency of the service, without overlooking or undermining the person-centred approach of which the Ways into Work team are extremely proud.
We’ve learnt the importance of prioritising what users need, understanding where technology can help us improve service delivery, whilst also enhancing our ‘individualised support’. For example, we are now looking at what parts of the service can be automated to free up Employment Advisers’ capacity for clients who might require more intense, face-to-face, support.
At our last meeting, the digital team were proud to show-off the prototype, which we are eager to test and build upon together.
This is a different way of working for all of us. We’ve spent time getting the ICT team up to speed with the service, but enjoyed working together as a team to understand what users need and how we’re going to develop the service. And it’s much more rewarding than sitting in meetings discussing the merits of a microsite.