Ideas by Jessica Stronghill

Applying human-centred design to digital services in government

Human-centred design endeavours to engage users throughout the design process wherever possible, to ensure the solution effectively meets their needs. As its premise, human-centred design does not ascribe to the old adage of “if you build it they will come.” Through human-centred design, teams leverage the user’s voice in order to get a better sense of what is right to build, before thinking about how to build it right.

In this way, human-centred design brings into balance the three key pillars of design:

  • Viability: What is financially viable?
  • Desirability: What do users want?
  • Feasibility: What is technically and organizationally possible?

Without the competition present in consumer products, it’s easy for governments to over-index on the functional and financial aspects of a new product or service, at the expense of the user’s needs. After all, your users may not have much of a choice! Bureaucracy, regulations, and efficiencies become the focus of design and the resulting solutions don’t address the needs of the people they are meant to serve. While an alternative service may not exist, disengagement, non-compliance, and complaints are very real consequences that often require more effort to fix than involving users in the first place.

Through human-centred design, teams are oriented to a process that helps them integrate government, employee, and citizens’ needs to produce more meaningful services; ultimately reducing the risk that these services will miss the mark with users when implemented.

 

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