From website to online service
It’s a known fact that integrated design offers companies many advantages. These advantages have also begun to be noticed by organisations in the public sector. I was surprised and delighted to discover on the gov.uk website a mini-campaign that promotes design. This is a great example of an institution which successfully invested in design in order to offer better services. Gov.uk uses design as an instrument to transform navigating on the their website into an enjoyable experience for users. It communicates rapidly, simply and efficiently the necessary information, in order to offer a high quality online service.
Gov.uk lists on their website a 10 point guideline for building a quality online service, that can serve as a reference for any organisation or company. Here is the list.
1. Start with needs (user needs, not government needs) : In order to create an enjoyable experience, first you have to know the consumers’ expectations. Start with research to know what you need to build.
2. Do less : integrate any pre-built structures that you need. Build only what is completely new and specific.
3. Design with data : Analyse the way in which the website is used. Constantly monitor the online service in order to identify the problematic sections which need other solutions. Ask users for their opinion.
4. Do the hard work to make it simple : A website which seems simple and easy to use is actually, contrary of what many might think, very difficult to create.
A website that looks simple and that is intuitive to use, requires a lot of work invested in its creation, in order to simplify all the processes, to test prototypes and to make use of all the knowledge gathered from user data.
5. Iterate, then iterate again : Start from a prototype version of the website which you can modify later by adding / eliminating functions.
6. Aesthetics and function : The aesthetic aspect is important, of course, but mainly the website needs to be functional, with legible texts and other user friendly features, like size changing options.
7. Understand the context : The website is intended for people. So when you create it, you have to think about when, where and from what devices it will be used.
8. Build digital services, not websites : A website is not just a website, but a platform through which you can offer your services online.
9. Be consistent. Not uniform : When it comes to identity in a fast changing environment change is encouraged in spite of uniformity. Respond to evolution by adaptability. Make any changes you need as long as the main concept is not altered.
10. Make things open: it makes things better : As a last point, gov.uk promotes collaboration, sharing experiences and knowledge freely and openly. It’s a good way to develop new ideas.