User research for government in Berne

On the 21st September last year I spoke at the Swiss government conference for eGovernment. My talk was about user research, the particular challenges of doing user research in government and the things we do at GDS to make sure the products and services we make are user-centered.

2 hours every 6 weeks, or why watching people use your thing regularly makes you a better designer/developer/product manager

At the Government Digital Service, we user researchers have a mantra: “2 hours every 6 weeks”. This means we expect everyone to attend 2 hours of user research every 6 weeks. This doesn’t have to be observing a usability session, or in-home interview (although that would be nice). It can be going to a research playback session, or attending a user research show and tell.

Even though we repeat this mantra in our training, and we have posters on our walls, it’s a really easy thing to forget to do. And teams I’ve worked in forget it all the time. In my experience, it’s not a natural thing to look out, to people outside the team. Teams have a tendency to look inwards, towards the centre, towards each other.

So I wrote a blog post to remind everyone, and to have something to remind myself of why it’s so important.

Government Content Conference: ConCon5

How do we measure if GOV.UK is any good? How do we measure if it is working for users? and if we’re getting better?

At ConCon5, I gave a talk based on the great Gerry McGovern’s method for top tasks. I proposed that we all need to share in some collective measures, that are focussed on the people who use our website rather than the output of the teams we sit in.

What I’ve been up to recently

I’ve been doing quite a lot of speaking at conferences, and writing of blog posts over the last couple of years. And recently I realised that I have not been making any reference to them on my own blog. So, I’m going to be publishing a tonne of new posts over the next 10 days or so, rounding up the various things I’ve been doing at work. Enjoy!

Webbos, Stockholm 2016

Last October I spoke at the Webbos conference in Stockholm, talking about how we, at GDS, structure our teams and our work to make sure we’re user-centred. I had a really fun day, and I think those who attended did too.

Usability in public administration, Budapest

Yesterday I gave a talk at a conference about user research and usability in the public sector.  It was organised by the energetic people at UX Budapest and the National University of Public Service in Budapest, as a part of World Usability Day 2015. I was there representing GDS and the work that I do as a part of the user research team there.

Here’s a bit more information. I might get around to putting my slides online, but for now, here’s a grainy, night-time photo of the lovely Danube.


Road cycling, check.

I’ve been training since April, riding tens of miles most weekends, and it paid off. I managed to cycle all the way to the Suffolk coast, I did the Dunwich Dynamo! Five flat tyres was pretty unlucky though! Maybe I should try again next year and try and beat my time?