We know that spending time on research throughout the design process means a team can make decisions using observations and evidence, not assumptions. It's an important part of each delivery phase from how you should start out understanding the problem space, through to improving and iterating your service based on how it's actually being used. The Design Standards call this out with their minimum expectations for teams to define the problem in the Standard 'Design with users, for users'.
The digital.nsw team have been working to bring the best of the NSW public sector's user research practices together so we can make it easier for all our teams building digital products and services.
Getting to the heart of the problem with discovery
In our pre-discovery phase late last year we determined teams did not necessarily need more certainty of research practices 'there's plenty of freely available reputable HCD method guides out there' but instead the most pressing need was to address teams' capability, confidence and capacity to deliver momentum using research.
Our research led us to prioritise 2 user stories:
- As a product team, how might we get our leaders on the same page about doing research that will drive momentum for any given project.
- As a leader, how can I gain confidence in my product teams research approach, and see it generating momentum for delivery on project outcomes.
We're using Design Sprints to progress through alpha where we will be continuously testing prototypes with users to validate assumptions, leading us to converge on a solution that we can further develop in Beta.
A complimentary piece of work we're looking at is consolidating user research operational guidance across government with the goal of creating a common research framework for NSW Government teams. What we've seen is that teams are unsure about the process and rules around recruiting and incentivising user research participants, and often battling with challenges round governance and approvals.
To date we've spoken with user researchers and teams who have contributed research frameworks and policies they've established and will be looking to set up a working group to pull together best practices.
Help us make research easier
We are happy to chat with your team about what we're working on and would love to hear about your practices and templates you've found useful.
If you have thoughts or feedback on how we can support research practices in NSW government, or a template or resource you've found particularly helpful, get in touch with the Design System team. You can also share your thoughts with us on the digital.nsw Community.
Our community at community.digital.nsw.gov.au have an active discussion about research practices. Take a look at these related posts and join the conversation:
Getting the most out of recruitment agencies - tips and tricks [Community post]