I did an article in August 2020 around mental health in Digital teams – Cognitive shade – Hounslow.Digital – at the time we were at the height of demand on our services, and we are now into 2022 with demand continuing to be high. We started this week with a major incident that affected all services and whilst we resolved very quickly, we had over 1000 phone calls in a couple of hours – on a Monday we would expect around 200 normally.
Time to talk day on 3rd February is so important and is an area wanted to highlight. It is great that Digital transformation has moved on immensely in the public sector during this time, but it has put an enormous strain on resources alongside the need to ensure we all balance work with our personal lives as the two have increasingly blurred with the move to hybrid working.
2021 was a difficult year for me personally. My Mum passed away during the year and we had another 3 deaths in the family plus my father had a stroke and needed to go into a nursing home. I know a lot of colleagues in the Council have related stories. The support I had from the organisation and colleagues has been fantastic – it has allowed me to talk when needed and I have always known that colleagues are there for me. It has encouraged me to address my mental health in the same way was I do my physical health which isn’t always an easy thing to do.
For time to talk day we have lots of opportunities for all colleagues to take the time out to do this across the Council both on the day and moving forward. Within the team as Director of Digital has had coffee mornings every Friday for the last year. We are now changing it up a bit using something called icebreakerbot on teams to randomly introduce 2 colleagues to each other to encourage that informal networking. We will continue to introduce other initiatives to give all that opportunity to talk informally and recreate those water cooler moments.
Did you know that people are more likely to be a victim of fraud or cybercrime than any other type of crime? Can you spot all the different scams? Here we take you through several of the more common scams doing the rounds and provide useful contacts to report them, as necessary.
Copycat websites – make sure if you are using a search engine that you check that the site you select from the search results is a genuine valid site. Some sites even offer you options to do business with government agencies for a fee when a fee is not actually required. Note: some search results will be shown as Ads (Adverts) – if responding to any of these please check they are genuine.
Phishing emails/texts/letters, so called as they fish for personal, often banking data. If you receive emails (particularly unsolicited ones) asking you to click a link to update your account/banking/card details, always be VERY suspicious. Similarly, if someone asks you for your bank/other account details through a chat/community platform, do not supply. Banks rarely ask for your details in this way. If you receive such requests – do not respond to the details provided in the email/text/letter – but contact your supplier direct by phone or email using the contact details on your usual statements to check the validity of the email/text/letter. These frauds may also encourage you to enter your username/password from other services eg your internet/mobile phone/utilities account. Be very suspicious, and check validity with your providers.
Online sales sites – eg Facebook Marketplace/ eBay etc – if an offer is too good to be true then it probably is! Carry out some investigation into the seller, do they have positive feedback – do they look to be a genuine person? Do they suddenly ask you to make a payment outside the selling services normal routes – note “friends & family” payment options are not covered by standard payment protection options, designed to protect your purchase? Do they ask you to make a special insurance payment so they can arrange collection by courier? In these cases you will be encouraged to make a token payment up front which will (in theory) be refunded when they pay – do not be fooled and do not send money after all they are the purchaser not you.
Problem with your computer/router/broadband etc. If you receive a cold call informing you that there is a problem with your equipment or the broadband etc and you are at risk of a virus or someone hacking into your accounts, simply put the phone down. Microsoft or major phone/internet providers do not ring up their customers to tell them about issues, and anyway they have no way of knowing about the issue remotely. If you are concerned, then contact your phone/internet provider direct using the details they provide in your statement.
Catfishing – this is where someone creates a fake/fictional identity to compromise another person in some way, this often involves developing an online friendship/relationship (to gain your trust and learn as much about you as possible) with a view to fraudulently obtaining money or simply to create upset. You should be cautious about people reaching out for new friendships, especially if they start to ask for money.
Scams on Facebook – if you are dealing with a company on Facebook check they are genuine and verified – this is shown by a blue tick after the company name. So, if you find a site offering free £100 shopping vouchers for the first 50 customers – double check that the site/page is a genuine business page by the blue tick. As an extra check there is a Page Transparency section – which will provide more information on who is responsible and the length of time the page has been operational.
Text messages – asking for payment for parcels to be delivered. These are unlikely to be genuine – again the best advice is to telephone or visit your delivery centre on their published direct number obtained from the company website. Do not contact them using the details provided on the card, as this will simply put you in direct contact with the scammers.
Fake COVID passes – you will never be required to purchase a COVID pass or booster, so ignore any requests to purchase.
Fake gift cards – remember if an offer sounds too good to be true then it probably isn’t. If you receive a request to click a link to activate your free gift card – visit the company’s genuine site/telephone to check.
Insecure sites – one indicator that a site is not genuine is the lack of relevant cyber security – indicated by a padlock icon in the website browser. If you don’t see this symbol or your browser warns you the site doesn’t have an up-to-date security certificate, that should be a warning to you to exit the site. Never provide any personal details unless the site is secure as a minimum. But it is still important to check it is a genuine site and not a scam site.
More information advice and examples are given in the links below:
During the last 18 months Digital inclusion challenges have been magnified which has given the team a renewed drive and focus to continue work in this area.
For some people it is issue with devices, for some it is connectivity and for some it is the confidence and training needed to use digital services. Only by being able to address all 3 can this be truly addressed .
Internally within the Council we have challenges with ensuring all colleagues have access to the right tools as all internal systems moving online.
We have a new Digital Inclusion Commitment with a new action plan to drive addressing issues internally and externally working with partners such London Office of Technology Innovation (Loti) and our Local Voluntary Services.
So what is Hounslow doing?
Hounslow now has a Digital Inclusion Group which has met regularly over the last 12 months and there continue to be deliverables across all these areas. This work has been alongside national government initiatives.
Based on current rollout schedule the council through this will be able to provide 300 residents broadband connections for a year and half price connections for another 200& – this is alongside free community wifi connections as part of this work.
Devices and training
The council is recycling laptops to residents – the aim is to complete 700 per year and we have completed the initial pilot. We are also continuing to tie this in with skills and training with the local voluntary services training people to perform this work alongside joint work with our Adult Education teams to provide digital skills.
This is the feedback from two resident journeys which shows the difference this support has made:
This resident is a member of a support group who provide activities and support to young people with disabilities.
He lives independently in sheltered accommodation in the borough.
He was using a very old desktop computer and was pleased to receive a refurbished laptop which has allowed him to download and play games online.
This has meant that he can still socialise while in lockdown and can access the zoom activities arranged through the club.
He has learned how to create youtube videos and uploads regular content for the club.
A 65 year old resident, described as not being very computer savvy was referred to our Work Hounslow team for help finding work. Previously, having lost his job, he became homeless and was a year before he found accommodation. He wants to learn to use a computer.
Work Hounslow arranged to meet with him. Work Hounslow then asked if Learn Hounslow had a laptop he could use as she was aware we do loan them to learners.
We enrolled him on a short beginner’s digital skills course, and he borrowed a Chromebook. After this he returned the Chromebook, and the voluntary services were able to gift him a reconditioned laptop to use. He initially had difficulty using this as he didn’t realise where he might be able to access free wifi but the team informed him he can access free wifi in some coffee shops and public spaces such as libraries so he is now able to make full use of his new device.
Digital Festival Hounslow begins on Monday 1 November and it will be bigger, bolder and better – join us for a month-long celebration of wellness, technology and all things digital!
This year’s line-up includes some fantastic sessions for colleagues with numerous guest speakers including Microsoft, Amazon and the Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation (SOCITM). You can also find out how to get involved in our newOrganisational Development, Learning and Leadership Cohort at various events throughout the Festival.
We’ve also got a range of fun and exciting activities for colleagues as part of our ‘fun at the festival’ events – find out more below.
The Festival will also feature a number of bespoke sessions for residents, local community groups and voluntary sector organisations, including workshops on social media and engagement, CV building and accessibility.
Our programme for 2021 is now live! Check out what’s on offer at the festival and start booking your tickets here.
FUN AT THE FESTIVAL
The Digital Festival isn’t all about work and learning. We have planned some fun challenges which will help you connect as a team.
On the Monday of each week we will set you a fun and varied mini challenge for your team to complete and submit on the Friday. Points are awarded for completion and bonus points for creativity and even being healthy.
We also have one challenge which we will set on the first day of the Festival and you will have 4 weeks to complete which will get you out and about in our wonderful borough.
Don’t Delay! Sign up your team today and brighten up your November: Register here.
The first challenge launches on Monday 1 November at 10am – get more info here!
Join our Organisational Development, Learning and Leadership Cohort
As part of our Organisational Wellness Strategy we want to create a flourishing workplace where everyone is able to be at their very best.
To support this ambition we’re looking for volunteers from across the Council to join our Organisation Development, Learning and Leadership Cohort. The Cohort will have lots of opportunities to get involved in new wellness initiatives, such as coaching, mentoring, facilitating development sessions and sharing new ideas.
During November’s Digital Festival we will be running lots of sessions for you to find out more about the Cohort and what’s involved, so join us for;
A virtual ‘hangout’ with the team to learn about who we are and what we do.
Complete our ‘Own Your Learning’ sessions, which will be on areas related to our world.
Join a weekly LifeClubs webinar, where you’ll explore areas related to each of our four Landmarks to help you Connect, Belong, Grow and Flourish.
Take part in our workshops about the big conversation we want to have and how you can support us.
You can find out more about the Organisation Development, Learning and Leadership Cohort by clicking here.
User research allows us to move beyond assumptions to identify how we can best support our users. Great user research needs to be inclusive, non-biased and focused.
Why do we need user research?
The users of any given product or services could be internal or external. In most cases, it’s both.
When you understand your users, you are more likely to design products and services that work well for them.
Knowing your users better means you can:
allocate your resources more appropriately
provide digital tools that make background processes more efficient
free human resources to focus on the most vulnerable citizens.
So how do we learn more about our users?
What do we mean by “user research”?
User research looks to unearth the buried treasure in a way that captures an individual’s experiences, motivations and struggles.
User researchers help their organisation empathise with the people they design for and build up a genuine understanding of their daily lives, routines and the tasks they wish to perform.
As researchers, we try to find the truth in amongst often conflicting stories from different people. We realise that people can be unreliable witnesses: they might not know why they are doing the things they are doing, especially in times of distress. There are also those who don’t want to tell you about their experience, or don’t tell you the whole truth.
Conducting user research helps us fill those gaps about our users and create services that meet their needs.
We use a range of techniques and approaches when we research.
Observational (ethnographic) research
Typically occurring early in the research process, this technique is all about observing how users behave. It helps us understand what they are trying to do and the context within which they experience our services.
User stories help to create a simplified description of a service by describing the type of user, what they want and why. User stories can help us understand some of the needs and aspirations we may have missed.
Here’s an example of a user story:
As a new dog owner
I want to find local parks
So that I can safely exercise my dog
Having a guided, individual discussion with users helps us better understand their lived experience and the circumstances that led them to access our services.
During a focus group session, we ask a group of people about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a service or concept.
After we have developed an early prototype, usability testing helps us understand how users interact with the prototype, which allows us to refine it quickly and often.
How can we make user research inclusive?
To build a good service, we need to consider the experience of a wide range of users.
This includes people who:
are living with disabilities
are culturally and linguistically diverse
need support to use the service.
Being inclusive isn’t just about the service, but also about the way we conduct our research. This means that we need to think inclusively when recruiting participants, selecting locations and conducting our sessions.
What makes a good user researcher?
Good researchers need to be empathetic, curious, good listeners and able to put themselves in the shoes of the user. They should be able to probe sensitively, as sometimes users can be too polite or overwhelmed to tell us their stories.
Questions need to be open and curious so that we capture a range of different experiences and opinions. We need to ignore our own bias and ensure that we don’t design research that presents loaded questions to our users.
Learn Hounslow is a provider of Adult and Community Education and is part of the London Borough of Hounslow. The teaching and learning provided is funded by the Greater London Authority’s Adult Education Budget (AEB). Learn Hounslow is an Ofsted ‘good’ provider where the information, advice and guidance offered is Matrix accredited.
There is a wide range of courses on offer: such as short informal courses, qualifications, or courses to enhance your employability, business, and personal development. Learn Hounslow provides course subjects across different curriculum areas. Their aim is to empower residents to realise their full potential and achieve their own goals.
The Digital Skills course offer includes a variety of digital skill courses for learners with different abilities.
Learn Hounslow offers the following FREE Digital Skills courses for all – regardless of their financial circumstances! Choose from:
Digital Skills for complete beginners,
Essential Digital Skills qualification (Entry 3 and Level 1),
Microsoft Office Basics (for new users),
Essential Digital Skills qualification for ESOL learners.
Learn Hounslow also offers courses for adults who wish to improve their existing digital skills. Fees may apply for these courses.
If you wish to improve your digital skills or you are interested in gaining a qualification which may lead to a change in career, contact Learn Hounslow to find out more about the following courses:
– Microsoft Office Intermediate (non-qualification course),
– Spreadsheets and Word Processing Level 2 qualification.
The new Practitioner Qualification offer
Learn Hounslow has recently introduced a NEW Practitioner qualification offer. These courses include:
Cybersecurity Level 1 & 2
Introduction to Programming – Level 1 & 2
Introduction to Networking – Level 1 & 2
Participants on a Practitioner course must be assessed prior to starting the course.
The syllabus is such that candidates should complete a Level 1 qualification before progressing on to a Level 2 qualification. Learn Hounslow teaches towards Level 1 at the start of the academic year before moving onto Level 2.
Lastly, you do not have to pay any course fees if you meet the following criteria:
– You are in paid employment and earn less than (£10.85 p/h) £21,157.50 annual gross salary OR
– You are unemployed, looking for work and in receipt of a means tested benefit.
Visit www.hace.ac.uk for more information and to browse through the latest courses available.
Call 020 8583 6000 to book a pre-course assessment, enrol onto a course, or find out more information.
Pick up a Learn Hounslow prospectus at your local library (in Hounslow borough) or visit Meadowbank Adult Education centre in Cranford to find out more about our service. We are open from Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm.
Understanding exactly how and why people are excluded can help us establish concrete steps towards being more inclusive. We can make things better for everyone by addressing accessibility.
All of us are going to have a disability at some point in our lives. These can be temporary like a broken arm, situational such as using a device in a dark room, or they can be natural such as progression of aging.
Looking for points of exclusion
vision, hearing, motor or speech impairments
cognitive impairments (for example, ADD, dyslexia or autism)
situational challenges (context in which users are interacting with the product such as a dark room or a public transport combined with ability-based impairments could result in further, overlapping pain points)
temporary impairments (for example, a broken arm)
How to design accessible websites?
Here is a fictional university website called Accessible University. It has been created to demonstrate a variety of common accessibility problems. Try to navigate the page to identify any links.
There are three links on the page that say, “click here”. They are not descriptive and informative and they do not meet contrast requirements, which makes them extremely difficult to spot. You can read more about contrast requirements on accessibility.digital.gov page.
Additionally, the links rely on colour to communicate information. Colour blind users would be unable to distinguish them from non-link text. Therefore, links should always have an underline.
People may have difficulty distinguishing red and green and blue and yellow.
Not relying on colour alone to convey important information was an essential element of the design of a symptom tracking app. Here is a prototype of the app:
On top of colours such as green representing low severity of symptoms, orange representing moderate severity and red representing severe symptoms, letters L for low severity, M for moderate and H for severe were added resulting in a system that users who can’t distinguish between colours can understand, without compromising the design for users who can see colours well and they usually associate green with low level, orange with moderate and red with severe/high level.
Text colour on white background
Many dyslexic users are sensitive to the brightness the high contrast colours cause. This is the reason why we don’t use pure black colour for text used on a white background. Our primary colour is: #0B0C0C. Our secondary colour is: #505A5F. Have a look at Hounslow Design systems to learn more about the colours, styles and components we use.
Apply background colour to input elements on all forms
Apply background colour to input elements on all forms, in case users change background colour to black so that users can still see the black text and input background colour does not go black. Learn more about how users change colour on websites.
The page should be readable and functional when the text size is doubled and viewed on any device or desktop.
When designing for mobile devices make sure that your interactive elements such as buttons or links have touch targets that are large enough and there is enough space/padding around them to make them easy to press without overlapping onto other elements. This is extremely helpful to everyone but especially anyone with a motor impairment.
Here is a banner video used on a university website. What is your first impression of it? Functionality to stop the video is provided, which is great, but the video runs too fast. Users with cognitive impairments, for example autism, dyslexia, ADD, could find such a design particularly overwhelming.
We should always try to create simple, minimal design to reduce distraction and cognitive load. Simple doesn’t mean boring. Here are several design examples which embrace simplicity and accessibility without compromising the user experience.
It shows a calendar page which presents all symptoms a user has experienced in a particular month; a user can view symptoms based on their severity or look at a particular day to check the symptoms experienced then.
In order to simplify a complex design users can view all symptoms or only one type of symptom, resulting in a system, that’s easier to understand, especially for people with autism spectrum disorder or cognitive impairments, who could get too overwhelmed with too much information presented at once.
To be digitally accessible, start with plain speaking. Don’t use buzz words or technical language.
Meaningful, descriptive link texts
The link text should give user enough information to decide whether they want to click it
Don’t use Create flexible layouts that work on any device. Learn more.
Use meaningful, descriptive headings and page titles. Headings communicate the organization of the content on the page. Nest headings by their rank or level. The most important heading has the rank 1 (<h1>), the least important heading rank 6 (<h6>).
YouTube videos. YouTube auto-generates closed captions for your videos and is great for compression if your video is too large
captions – text recording of any speech that appears at the same time as audio
That’s why it’s better to use short paragraphs that express one idea. This is because dyslexic users need more breaks between ideas than non-dyslexic users. Breaking up your text to one idea per paragraph makes reading a lot easier for both dyslexic and non-dyslexic users.
Show the least amount of information/functions necessary for a given task/purpose.
Users like to search and navigate
Users tend to use search boxes a lot on pages which have a lot of content. Some users will prefer to navigate the page while others will use a search box. Search boxes and navigation should go hand in hand in order to help users reach their goal.
Navigation repeated on multiple pages should appear in the same place in each time. Users can easily navigate, find content, determine where they are.
Accessible design leads to a better user experience
Accessible design does not only lead to better experience among users with disabilities but also among those who do not have disabilities or limitations. Many accessibility requirements improve user experience, particularly in limiting situations.
I also love the four principles established by the team at BBC:
Give users a choice.
Put users in control.
Design with familiarity in mind.
Prioritize features that add value.
These principles can be applied to any project to improve user experience for everyone.
How to develop accessible websites?
Some users drive the computer entirely with the keyboard or other type of input device. For those users, focus is absolutely critical. It’s their primary mean of reaching interactive elements on the screen.
Colour yellow is used to indicate which element is focused on. For example, when a user tabs to an element with their keyboard.
We only add focus to interactive controls such as buttons, form inputs, links, dropdowns etc.
You can use tab button to navigate websites:
Pressing tab button moves focus forward
Pressing shift button plus tab moves focus backwards
Pressing arrow buttons moves focus within a component
Try to navigate www.gov.uk using only your keyboard.
As you can see it is very easy to navigate the page as the bright yellow coloured focus indicator is present on all interactive elements on the page such as links, buttons and a search box.
Here is a fictional university website called Accessible University. It has been created to demonstrate a variety of common accessibility problems. Try to navigate the website using only your keyboard.
As you can see the website is extremely difficult to navigate with tab buttons. There is no focus indication for keyboard users.
To add focus use tabindex. Remember to only add it to interactive elements on your page such as buttons, links, search input, form elements etc.
A tabindex = 0 will add the element in the natural tab order.
Here is an html code for a button without tabindex which doesn’t have a focus.
Here is an html code for a button with tabindex which has a focus.
<div id=”dropdown” tabindex=”0”>Menu</div>
Tabindex greater than 1, for example tabindex = 5, will jump the element to the front of the tab order regardless of where it is in the DOM.
Focus indicator can seem lost when navigating websites using offscreen content such as off-canvas menus. In order to fix it you can set its visibility to hidden or display none and make it visible again when users click on the menu.
The ARIA Authoring Practices doc (or “ARIA Design Patterns doc”) is a great resource for figuring out what kind of keyboard support your components should implement.
Validation should be designed in a way that considers the needs of all users, including those who can’t see the error message visually, and those who are unable to use a mouse. A good design would be one in which:
the capabilities of HTML5 are fully utilized, including the required and pattern attributes, as well as <input> types such as type=”email” and type=”url”. Using these features enables browsers to provide their own validation, which is likely to be supported by assistive technologies
the error message includes enough detail so that all users know which fields have errors
the error message is written to a container that is marked up with role=”alert”. This is ARIA markup that results in screen readers announcing the message to users as soon as it appears, regardless of their current location on the page
the user’s focus can be sent automatically to the first field on which a correction is needed
Aria is a W3C specification that is designed to communicate roles, states, and properties of user interface elements to assistive technologies. ARIA is essential for accessibility of today’s modern web interfaces.
To make it simple and short, “machine learning is one of the foundational branches of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which focuses on the use of data and mathematical based calculations (algorithms) to imitate the way we (as humans) learn, and then gradually improve its accuracy to predict outcomes (results)”.
What is predictive modelling in machine learning?
In a nutshell, predictive modelling is “a statistical technique using machine learning and data processing to predict and forecast likely future outcomes (results) with the support of historical and existing data”. Predictive modelling works by analysing historical and current data where it projects what it learns using a model ‘forecasting likely’ outcomes.
Machine learning examples and initiatives
Machine learning practices has helped many businesses in both private and public sector and potential for opportunities are unlimited which really support local businesses to achieve their targets. To make it more relevant for the London Borough of Hounslow, here are few examples which have acted as a driver for a greater change.
Data Science helped identify potential savings of over £581m for the NHS – click here to view detailed article.
Leeds Institute for Data Analytics using machine learning in a completely new way to improve climate models – click here to view detailed article.
Data Science to tackle ‘global targets for sustainable development’ which are set by the United Nations – click here to view detailed article.
How Data Science and Predictive Analytics can contribute to sustainable development
In the past, data science practices were limited to the top fortune 500 global businesses, however; there is a larger shift where data science is now adopted by nearly all private and public sector organisations which is mainly due to big data ease of access and reduced costs of using open-source technologies.
The illustration below is one of the examples, set by the United Nations where the focus is on data science and analytics. In this example, data is an integral part where we (London Borough of Hounslow) can step in and support the common goal which is to make our world safer and sustainable.
As part of the digital strategy, the London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) now have a Data Science and Data Quality Team.
We interviewed the team to get a sense of what the Data Science and Data Quality Team will be working on.
Ejaz Hussain, Lead Data Scientist
Anna Trichkine, Data Quality Lead
Ahmed Babalola Lasisi, Data Engineer
Neil Gordon, Data and Development Manager
What does Data Quality and Data Science mean to the team?
Data Quality is a focus area for many teams. Data Quality can be developed in many ways including focusing on data engineering and creating good data pipelines, running regular data quality reports, and visualising data to showcase the quality to users.
The role of data science is unique and stands between the business operational world and the technical world. Data Science offers opportunities of deep data analysis where artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning play a vital role to design and build predictive models. Such predictive models run on algorithm-based principles and help us to achieve business specific outcomes, for example data enabled decision making.
Data Science and Data Quality:
This is a genuinely exciting time at Hounslow, with the creation of a dedicated Data Science and Data Quality Team helping to leverage data as one of our most powerful assets driving greater sharing, analysis and insight across all areas of the council. Predictive modelling, AI and machine learning are all dependent on data quality so combining both disciplines within the new team provides a wonderful opportunity to progress at pace and deliver real value to colleagues and constituents alike.
What are the 3 things you love most about your role?
1. I love to explore complex data and to predict the best data-enabled options moving forward so that the London Borough of Hounslow and its residents can see real benefits
2. I love to be able to see hidden opportunities and then interpret such opportunities for wider good
3. To learn and share data science activities (like machine learning) with collaborative channels such as LOTI (London Office for Technology and Innovation)
1. I love data engineering because it involves picking pieces of data from diverse sources and integrating them for data driven decisions
2. Consolidating and cleaning the data to create data pipelines
3. Working within the data quality and data science team to make sense of the council data that will support the council’s data-enabled decision making
1. Data Quality is like solving puzzles and having the opportunity to solve puzzles is so fun
2. Data Quality tasks are not restricted to any single tool and provide opportunities to constantly upskill in either new programming languages, or new tools, or both
3. Data Quality is something that is important for every team and having the opportunity to work with every team means that you feel integrated into the council very quickly
1. Transforming unstructured, poor quality data into intelligence, insight and learning that informs decision making and delivers positive customer experiences
2. As a fellow ‘data geek’ who cut his teeth processing name and address data on mainframes, I really enjoy seeing how technology has evolved and enables the Team to cleanse, analyse and visualise data seamlessly
3. Collaboration and team building
What are your favourite things about working for Hounslow Council?
1. I love the positivity and engagement throughout the Council
2. Trust and excellent support from line management
3. Able to speak up and contribute positives ideas and thoughts with others
1. The London Borough of Hounslow is a hub for collaboration and openness
2. Good working environment, although working remotely
3. Opportunity for training and growth
1. I live in the borough so I love learning about all the work that is being done to support local residents
2. Hounslow House is a beautiful building to work in
3. The focus on inclusivity in tech is an area that the council are working hard to support and it is closely linked to my own values
1. The challenge of building new teams, technology, environments and processes
2. Independence, opportunity to influence strategy, direction and collaborate with internal and external colleagues
Helping design services to make them user centred and easy to use is what we do in the Service Design team.
Recently, some of our colleagues who run public facing services procured a new back-end system. It gifted us a great opportunity to build a low fidelity prototype to show them what a fully digital end to end customer experience could look like for them.
We built a small team to work on this, with skillsets of Service Design, Content Design and User Experience Design.
We are testing this prototype to get feedback from a small group of users, which – together with input from the service – will allow us to move to a high-fidelity alpha prototype that we can test and iterate with more users.
We have used a few different systems to allow us to work in an innovative and collaborative way. We started by creating a Miro board to allow us to group together all the information we had about the service and to gather research about what other local authorities were doing in this space. We also use the Miro board to run our sprint retrospective and planning sessions. The beauty of Miro is that collaboration is so easy, the team was able to work well together from the get-go.
We also used Figma to build the prototype. It allows multiple team members to work on a single project. It also lets you to build up libraries of reusable components, which the whole team has access to. Finally, you can use it to do all kinds of work, such as website prototypes, interface design or graphic design and everything in between.
Once we started to think about testing, we used Maze to create a self-guided test script. Maze lets you import a prototype directly from Figma, then ask users to complete specific tasks by interacting with the prototype. It’s a really simple way to get some high-level feedback remotely, as users can do it in their own time, on their devices. As well as testing end-to-end journeys, you can ask multiple choice questions to help guide the design of individual elements. This is a great complement to more intensive and traditional one-to-one testing, which typically takes more time.
As we develop the service, we will share updates with you about our progress.