DHS website upgrade project

Recently we worked closely with the Department of Human Services (DHS) to improve the user experience of their website. Paul Short from DHS shares his experience partnering with us on this project.

Read the transcript

Paul: Department of Human Services is one of those really unique organisations where we touch the lives of millions of people everyday.

The DTA in particular is bringing a skills uplift in terms of working agile, so they’ve come with an agile coach and a product manager coach. But [the] DTA has also added for us a service designer, interaction designer and some content designers, who’ve been working with us day-to-day on helping us design and construct better ways of presenting information for our users.

The two things that have really stood out to me working in this way has been having a multi-disciplinary team working on our project, and it’s not just the skills — or the mix of skills — that are at the table, but it’s also the way of working. We collaborate on a daily-basis and work in the same workspace. Working in an agile way, we are working with users, with front-line staff constantly continuing to get feedback and evidence about the way that our users need to be presented with information, so it becomes a much more informed conversation that we can have. Rather than going forward with an opinion to an executive and asking them to endorse something because I said so, I can actually ask them to endorse something because our users have told us it’s a better way of doing business.

We have been working in line with the Digital Service Standard. We have an internal team that is running in-flight assessments for us. And it’s been a really great process; it’s actually a learning process for both of us. The iterative design process allows us to deliver the things that are of most value immediately, test them live — or test them straightaway — and get feedback quickly that we can respond to and improve on the design.

For this project, we spent a lot of time in Discovery, really understanding the problems that our customers are facing — not just in the web channel but in their interactions with the department — and then thinking about how we could design a better website experience to help them manage the business that they need to do.

The great thing about the way we’re working and this agile process is we’re looking more at those stories and bringing them to the fore; getting out and talking to our customers and our staff. There is a wealth of knowledge in the frontline of Department of Human Services; thousands of staff that work with customers everyday who want to make a difference to their lives, and can really help us better shape services around the needs of the people that use those services.

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