UX Week – Putting user experience in the spotlight

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

In July 2021 Welsh Government held its first UX Week, a week of events on the topics of user experience and user centred design.  We know what you’re thinking – what is user experience and why did you want to run a week-long event on it? We asked Azul De Pol, who is part of our UX community in Welsh Government, to write a blog to tell you more…

What is user experience (UX)?

Have you ever been frustrated when you can’t find what you need on a website, when an automated phone service doesn’t have the option you require or you’re just unable to use a service as it is not accessible to you? If your answer is yes then you are not alone, in fact we have probably all experienced bad service design at some point.

So, what’s the answer? Well it’s quite simple really, we need to involve users (the people who will actually use the service, product etc.) in the design process. It’s common sense when you think about it and the good news is that this approach, otherwise known as User Experience (UX) design, has seen a lot of development in recent years.

Why hold a UX Week?

Like other organisations, Welsh Government has been looking to really focus on what our users need when developing various services and products. Though an area we’ve delved less into, until recently, is adopting User Centred Design (UCD) approaches and principles to improve the way we develop new policies – although this is now central to our Digital Strategy for Wales.

That’s where the idea of ‘Wythnos UX Week 2021’ came in. A week of events, providing the opportunity for staff to learn first-hand from experts in the field how to apply user centred design approaches. Ultimately we wanted to:

  • raise the profile and understanding of UX within Welsh Government
  • foster some connections, and
  • learn from other organisations who are ahead of us in the journey

What did we learn during UX Week?

Obviously it’s hard to identify just one main take-away from the week, so instead here’s a few of the key things we learned along the way:

  • Observation is key – often what people say and what people do can be two different things. And to find what works or doesn’t work, for someone, we need to know what they actually do.
  • Don’t make assumptions – people living in different areas, doesn’t necessarily mean their needs aren’t the same.
  • People aren’t hard to reach – it is more likely that you just haven’t found a way to listen to them.
  • Success depends on everything working together – it’s important to create an ecosystem of services, rather than apply service design to the services you already have
  • Bilingual by default – create frictionless journeys for Welsh language speakers by designing bilingual by default rather than spending more money re-designing at a later date.
  • Simplicity is key – everyone, no matter what language they use, want a clear, jargon-free language journey.
  • Don’t forget ethics in User Research (UR) – good UR maintains the rights, dignity and well-being of the participants.
  • Used in combination can lead to other benefits – combining user testing with cognitive testing can improve survey design which can lead to better response rates and data quality.
  • No limits to success – meaningful outcomes for the people directly affected can be achieved, no matter the type of policy.
  • Empathy and compassion – we are all humans dealing with humans. Acting with kindness first is what ties it all together, and using UCD as an approach is a great relationship-builder.

We couldn’t have done it without some help….

Our first ever UX week went pretty well, even if we do say so ourselves! The feedback from attendees has been really positive, and we have increased our knowledge about how we can better use User Centred Design.  The week wouldn’t have been possible, or such a success, without all the experts from across the UK public sector leading the sessions, so we’d like to say a big diolch yn fawr, thank you!

What’s next?

One of the biggest benefits of the week was the opportunity to share knowledge with other organisations and develop, what I’m sure will be, useful contacts as we continue our UX journey.

Whilst we, as an organisation, are already doing some really good work in this area there is still more for us to learn, especially on the policy development side of things. That’s why it’s important we keep learning and continue to incorporate UX in our everyday work.

So, if you work in this area and would like to help us continue to develop, then please drop us email at EngagementSpace@gov.wales

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