That’s sprint 3 done

Another fortnight passes, a lot’s going on, but this week I had the (only slight) realisation of the mountain still to climb. Doable though. Very doable.

User research recruitment

Feels as though this is an ongoing challenge for agile teams in government. An ongoing tussle between recruitment suppliers understanding and delivering the brief and participants participating can make things a little unpredictable when relying on (a different sample of) user input at each sprint to inform what you’re making.

I’ve taken matters into my own hands by recruiting myself, which remains to be seen if it’s the right thing to do. I’m using Twitter to find ‘innovative small businesses’ by scraping large accounts like @startupstowers, @beisgovuk and @britishchambers and building lists with auidiense of accounts with certain keywords in the bio. I’m then using Dr Tweety to export that info and manually(!) flicking through to get a shortlist to politely and respectfully approach.

The idea is to get a mix of people who know about the Innovate UK family (@innovateuk, @EEN_UK, @KTNUK and @Catapult_UK – and all 50 sub twitter accounts) and those who don’t. And also aim for a split across sectors. All in the name of a balanced view, which may also throw up some contrasting insight.

We’re on a shortlist of 60 names and have visualised the relationships between them in gephi, which is helpful to see which of the segments described above are under represented.

network no labels.png

I’m keen to see if a visualisation like this could be used for showing the rank of users needs and how (if they do) vary across the segments. We’ll see if patterns start to emerge. One of the reasons behind my thinking for this is that too often research is done then left collecting dust. I like the idea of something this project (and others) can build on over time and interrogate.

Usability testing

Sticking with the user, we ran our first round of showing some folk our work last sprint.

We’re starting from a GOV.UK look and feel, albeit different branding, and will deviate away at points where users got a little stuck. That’s the joy of a GOV.UK exemption 🙂

A big thing we’re taking to sprint 4 making the search easier for users to get their head around.

Search Results (GDS) - Selected

While showing all results is the default starting point on GOV.UK, where you tweak the parameters to refine the results, users were overwhelmed so we need to explore the options.

There are tweaks to microcopy, highlighting keywords in results as well as tagging on the cards, as is some sort of sentence builder for the user to play with first, which then returns the results page.

A big challenge we’ve got with the API’d content is the occasional contradictory headlines and descriptions where users don’t feel they’re looking at relevant results (from the headlines alone), but in reading the description, they realise it is relevant.

Wider team

I also kicked off a series of user stories that the wider team of Methods Digital (who are configuring Salesforce) and GovDelivery (current technology in the frame to send the email / sms messages) are feeding into and divvying up who’s doing what. No doubt loads of work there to nail dataflows, privacy etc.


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