Digital transformations often focus on new technologies, agile practices and new business models. As such, a digital transformation is a major change programme that helps a company succeed in the digital age and helps to breathe new life into a business.
The primary advantage is that it can help a business stay relevant with its customer base. The disadvantage is that ever-changing customer preferences can cause a viable product to not be seen as valuable or useful before it gets into the ‘live’ market.
At the NHSBSA, we’re striving to solve new problems that our users face, continually creating the chance to digitise our processes so that time can be spent in value-adding activities, such as frontline care.
One of our current projects is transforming the NHS Jobs platform, the online recruitment service for the NHS.
Liz Bartram is a Content Designer from Difrent, a company who is supporting the NHSBSA in this digital transformation project. She shares an honest overview of the challenges the team have faced, and what they’ve done to overcome them, so far…
Thirsty for knowledge and only just getting to know our user, we know there’s so much we don’t know.
We’re a proud and conscientious bunch and we want to do some good work here, so it’s hard not to feel disheartened when you’re creating a jigsaw with so many missing pieces.
But this is alpha, a phase in the product development lifecycle where we test concepts. This is not where we see perfection.
So how do we focus on the now and stop trying to do it all?
The answers aren’t apparent, which isn’t unsurprising. We’re a new team with a mix of backgrounds and levels of experience. We’ve no shared design culture or mutual ways of working to support us and help smooth the bumps in the road.
It’s time to create some design principles
This is a common concept. Design principles establish a shared approach, not just for the design team but for everyone. They should be an anchor that helps us stick to what really matters and communicate to our colleagues why we are taking a particular path.
Government Digital Service (GDS), whose guidelines we work to, has an established set of design principles and we turned to those first. They’re well-thumbed and well known. When we related these back to our initial problem, we felt they just wouldn’t help us shine a light on how to do ‘good enough’.
So we created our own. An interesting process which has helped us try and focus not just what ‘good’ design looks like, but what good design in alpha looks like.
They’re a first shot and they’re certainly not set in stone. But just to be clear – our design principles aren’t in alpha, they’re for alpha.
With Beta looming (another phase in the development lifecycle where the service is tested with a sample of the intended audience), we fully expect them to be as throwaway as our prototypes.
So, here they are
- Lose your personal bias – you’re designing for the user, not yourself
- Design to challenge assumptions – we’re not here to design a solution, we are here to get to know what we don’t know. It’s OK to prototype something ‘wrong’ if it helps users show us what is ‘right’
- Be fast not thorough – alpha should be a steep learning curve so this is not the time for perfection. We’ll prototype only what we need to test
- Give users just enough – if they want more, they’ll ask for it
- Everyone can (and should) contribute to ideation (the formation of ideas and concepts). More team perspective = better design
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