DHS Website Reform Project — Alpha assessment

The Website Reform Project is transforming the department’s public website, humanservices.gov.au.

The project will improve the readability of content, update the overall design and interactivity, and develop writing and style standards that need to be met for all future content.

The website will adopt the GOV.AU user interface. This means a new visual design and information architecture that better assists users to find information and complete tasks online. More broadly, the GOV.AU interface gives government departments and agencies a consistent visual style, voice and tone. This will help users recognise government information as a trusted source of truth.

This report only considers the adoption of the GOV.AU design on humanservices.gov.au because this is the only component of the project ready to progress into Beta at this stage.

Areas of good performance

  • The Website Reform project has met criteria 1 to 3 of the Digital Service Standard and shown sufficient progress towards meeting the remaining criteria. This report recommends the service proceed from Alpha to Beta stage.

  • The team has conducted extensive user research throughout the Discovery and Alpha stages in line with the diversity and scale of the department’s website user base.

Criterion 1: understand user needs

  • The team have demonstrated a good understanding of why users engage with the website and what their core needs are for interacting with the information service. This informed which areas of the look and feel required attention and what would have the biggest impact for the largest audience.
  • A wide range of users and demographics were covered during the research. This included diversity across locations, internet access, age, digital ability, cultural background, frequency of service usage, and people with disabilities. The team have identified a gap in remote user research, and have scheduled this to occur in early Beta.
  • During Discovery and Alpha, the team conducted both qualitative and quantitative research. The team undertook contextual testing with staff in face-to-face and call centre environments, and with customers in lab based usability testing, face-to-face and remote user testing environments. Overall the user research was extensive.
  • The research identified that the way information is presented in the existing website is too complex and difficult to navigate, particularly regarding payment eligibility and claiming. The team have recently started using GovDex as a central repository for all user research and can demonstrate a line of sight between user insights and design decisions.

Criterion 2: have a multidisciplinary team

  • The team is made up of staff from the Department of Human Services and Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), resulting in a well-rounded multidisciplinary team. Although the team is split across Canberra, Sydney and Coffs Harbour, they are able to work cohesively through daily stand-ups and the use of technology such as Google Hangout, GovDex, Trello and Slack.
  • The team has overcome resourcing challenges, such as losing a user researcher and needing to balance competing external priorities. This has been achieved by taking a T-shaped roles approach, job shadowing and upskilling across the team. The DTA team members have provided an excellent capability uplift opportunity.
  • The team has developed an effective onboarding process for new team members. The newest team member was provided with a thorough overview with the team on day one, including a walkthrough of the project roadmap and user journeys.
  • Almost all team members have participated directly in user research, and videos of research are shared across the team for those who can’t. The team also conducts regular debrief sessions to ensure there is a common understanding of user needs across all team members. The videos are also available to a broader stakeholder base.
  • The team will need to develop a plan for when DTA resources roll off the project at the end of the financial year, and are currently looking at options to address this.

Criterion 3: agile and user-centered process

  • The team successfully established and maintained an agile and user-centred design process. Throughout their research and prototyping they developed a regular cycle of communicating outcomes and iterating designs based on user behaviour.
  • The team followed a two week sprint cadence, in which they held sprint planning, stakeholder share backs, team insights sharing sessions, retrospectives, showcases and daily stand ups. The team is committed to continuing and improving the agile processes and ceremonies throughout beta.
  • The team followed a very user-centred process. Each sprint they used research to identify pain points, held ideation sessions as a team to develop hypotheses and used these to develop prototypes for testing with users. Artefacts that have been produced include a project timeline, user journeys, personas and an empathy wall.
  • The team are able to show examples of iteration in their prototype based on insights gained from user research. One example is the menu design, which was changed as a result of user testing where it proved to be problematic for people with low vision.
  • When deciding which features should be released into Beta, the team considered what would deliver the most value for users, combined with what would take the least amount of effort to build.
  • The team faced significant challenges throughout Alpha, such as needing to switch from version 1 to version 2 of the gov.au UI Toolkit, and changes in scope and priority as a result of external decisions. The team dealt with these challenges persistently and resiliently, and were able to overcome them through careful planning, prioritisation and team work.

Criterion 1: understand user needs

  • The team is encouraged to continue to address the gaps in their primary user research, such as their planned remote engagement in late May 2017.

Criterion 2: have a multidisciplinary team

  • The team is encouraged to demonstrate how they plan to address the skills and capability gaps they will face at the end of the financial year, particularly in user research, service design and interaction design.

Assessment against the Digital Service Standard

Criterion Result
1 Pass
2 Pass
3 Pass
4 On track
5 On track
6 On track
7 On track
8 On track
9 On track
10 On track
11 On track
12 On track
13 On track