What do we mean by digital?

Here at the Digital Transformation Office, we’re dedicated to implementing simpler, clearer, faster public services. We do this by putting users first and changing the way that governments think about the way they deliver services to the community. Alastair Parker, a technical architect at the DTO talks about why we’re not just about putting existing services and processes online but how we’re making them digital.

Newspapers and digital devices


The digital continuum

It doesn’t matter if you read the news in a paper, from a scan or online, the articles will always be the same - it is the user’s experience that changes as they progress along the ‘digital continuum’.

The analog experience

When you read a printed newspaper your experience is dictated and constrained by the publisher. Choices the publisher make for the user include:

  • which articles are important by placing them on the cover or towards the front of the paper
  • the size, colour and styles of the text users read
  • the types of advertising presented to the user

The electronic experience

Having an electronic copy of a news article gives the user more flexibility around how their experience, such as:

  • the ability to zoom in and see the pictures more clearly,
  • having a plain text extract of the article, which can be translated or read by a screen-reader
  • being able to quickly and easily share the article

The electronic experience is an improvement over analog, but it is really only replacing a pen with a keyboard.

The digital experience

Providing a platform that allows users to create and share their personalised experience gives you:

  • the ability to search for articles by title, topic, tag or author
  • links to resources where the user can learn more, or access aggregated and similar content from other sites
  • different forms of digital media, such as videos and audio
  • recommendation based topics that the user has shown interest in
  • community aspects, such as ranking articles by popularity
  • social media aspects, such as comments, sharing and ‘likes’
  • as-it-happens updates on important stories like elections and natural disasters

A digital user journey ensures that every user can use your service to its fullest potential; it shouldn’t matter if they’ve used it before or know more about your internal process than others.

Your service needs to be digital not just electronic, and deliver exactly what it says on the box for all users.