Joining the Digital Team and iterating Blackburn.Gov.UK

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How I got here?

I applied for the Content Design role in the Digital Team, on a wing and a prayer, having served my purpose as a Customer Service Advisor. As much as I enjoyed my role in the contact centre, I felt it was time for a change and to put my experience and knowledge to new use. Four months later, I am contributing to the Digital Blog, eager to share what myself and the team, have done so far and what we have planned for the coming months!

After rigorous, and on-going, training and research, I have been able to bolster and define my new role within the team, whilst advocating the importance of content design and user research to my wider audience (including you, the reader). Rather than describing this role in technical terms, let's look at what I have done so far, in practical terms.

My journey so far...

My first deliverable was to prototype, design and produce a feedback form which went live in March 2021, with the help of the developer, Luke Holley. The form can be found in the footer on all service pages (webpages under a specific area), where visitors to the site can comment and provide insight on the webpage itself. This does not include issues or reporting problems regarding the service, it is primarily for the use of the webpage and if the content (information) was easy to find, understand and was useful. The feedback is then reviewed and further iterations (actions or changes) will be made to the webpage, if required. A perfect opportunity to ask and listen (so to speak) to our visitors. This first milestone fulfils my mantra of ‘ensuring our services are easy to access, easy to understand and easy to use’ and paves the way for a user needs-based approach, moving towards a community-based website.

The next milestone on my ‘ever-growing’ to-do list, was to redesign the homepage which went live on 1st June 2021. Below is an image of the Miro board, a tool that is used in place of the traditional whiteboard. It is interactive, innovative and promotes collaboration, which is much needed whilst we are all working from home. The Miro board was used to prototype, design and produce a final draft of the homepage.

Miro board example

The development of the redesign, involved A/B Testing, which is taking the current website and comparing it with a new design, whilst asking users what they prefer, how they use the homepage and which features are most important to them. In this instance, the users included a range of participants and they were able to comment and provide their opinions on the prototypes. The prototypes were iterated, and small improvements made until we came to a final draft which we think meets user’s needs. The next step of the iteration process is to implement a feedback form that will be available for visitors to provide further opinions. This a great method to measure user satisfaction and to ensure our users needs are met.

So what’s next on my journey…?

My next milestone is to tackle the content audit process, head-on, alongside the Web Team. To promote engagement I hope to meet content owners to discuss in more detail, the user needs-based approach, what is good content, how to update content and demonstrate an easy-to-use toolkit that can be used to write content which is usable and useful.

By Shazia on 3rd Jun 2021
Shazia Attia is an assistant service designer at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.