Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been visiting some of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) operations staff, who have given us really useful feedback about GOV.UK.
Most of the people we spoke to were digital champions - these are people who work at DWP who promote and support the users of government services online. Lots of them are front line staff, people who interact with the public in Jobcentre Plus offices and contact centres.
We met up with teams in Birmingham, Blackpool and Newcastle, largely to find out what they think of GOV.UK and what impact it might have on their users, but also to find out how they might use GOV.UK in their work.
Encouragingly, the reaction to GOV.UK was hugely positive. The groups liked that it was simple to understand, clear of clutter, and got them to the information they wanted quickly, and it was great to hear that from the staff who’ll use it frequently.
We still got a lot of good feedback for the site though, including suggestions like
- Landing pages for call-centre staff - in many instances, call-centre staff are using Directgov to find information for callers, and building a landing page that collects related links for them could save time on every call
- Clearer labelling of categories - in our current model, benefits and pensions aren’t signposted well enough - we're fixing this now
- Careful treatment of contact information - it isn’t always clear which team is the best for users to contact, and whether extra information is available
- Make better use of frontline expertise when it comes to search terms and related links - because, much like web standards, these will always be evolving
While some of these issues had come up in-house and in user testing, hearing about them in the context of staff needs and users’ expectations was incredibly valuable.
We’re really grateful to the team at DWP for putting these sessions together. We know how busy operations staff are, but getting honest feedback from people who have made time to have a good look around GOV.UK is important.
One of the things we made clear in every chat was that this process isn’t finished. The release of GOV.UK on the 17th October is, effectively, just another iteration, and we’ll always need more feedback to make it the best website we can. So we’re going to head back for another chat in a couple of months to see how they’re getting on with the site then.