Three cities, one alpha, one day

A few weeks ago, GDS and Land Registry teamed up to build an alpha of their property register service - one of the 25 services we're transforming.

To demonstrate the pace of change in agile teams, we gave ourselves one day to rapidly prototype the service, working here and at offices in Plymouth and Leicester. 8 features were built and deployed on the day, iterated in response to testing with real users.

You can see a short film of the team working on it, already showcased on the Land Registry blog. A huge thanks to everyone involved, especially Coca Rivas and Richard Stobart for organising and facilitating the day.

Video transcript

Simon Cairns, digital service delivery lead at Land Registry:
The aim today is to bring some customers in and have them look at the system that we’re developing. We’ll be taking you through a set of scenarios. We’ll then take that feedback; we’ll make some changes.

Angela Jackson, head of product management at Land Registry:
[to a service user] If you imagine Land Registry has launched this service and you’re using it for the first time.

Simon Cairns:
We're doing it in a day to push the boundaries and test to see exactly what can be achieved.

Paul Downey, technical architect at GDS:
You don’t really know how good your website is until you see ordinary people who’ve not seen it before trying to use it.

Hope Mason, service user:
I’m struggling to see the exact title number.

Kim Bird, scrum master at Land Registry:
One couldn't read the title number, so we can certainly do something about making that title number more visible.

Paul Downey:
Yes, a more in-your-face title number would be… Yes, let’s do that. We need to make sure we deploy something in a couple of hours’ time. It’s quarter past 12 now. Let’s go; let’s do it.

Mark Kelly, senior developer at Land Registry:
I’ve been working on displaying the information on the screen; making it more readable for the users. I’ve made the font size bigger, but the other thing is I’ve added a halo round it, so it’s much easier to read.

Paul Downey:
One of the ideas suggested by the users this morning was going from a property on the map to seeing that in Google Streetmaps. Here’s the Land Registry map. I’ve managed to add a little popup which says “Here’s the download, the titles, plan of the titles”, and here’s, “View that page in Google Maps”.

Nick Breeze, user researcher at GDS:
There were problems with the colours. A lot of people mentioned about understanding what the different colours meant. The colour edition of the maps made everything a lot clearer.

Keith Hurst, senior responsible officer at Land Registry:
Agile. This is my first experience of working in this way. The team is really energised.

Simon Cairns:
We’d set out with the hope of being able to change, I think, one or two things was maybe the expectation. We I think finished eight story cards today, which has been beyond anybody’s expectations.

Hope Mason, service user:
I think for the timeframe that they had, an awful lot was achieved. The base product is really there; it does what you need it to do.

Jim Wilson, service user:
I thought it was a good service beforehand, but with the enhancements, it’s much more improved.

Ed Birrell, service user:
Yes, very impressive. The fact that they actually made changes whilst we were in the meeting as well.

Keith Hurst:
They like the features, they like the changes, the look and feel of it. They saw improvements.

Simon Cairns:
I think what we’ve learned is we can make changes quickly, but also, getting the value of having developers listen to what the customers are saying, watching them work with the system; I think it’s proved invaluable.