Day 2, Futures Academy: Understanding the user need

Documenting the user research findings

Today was all about user research.

We started the morning with a ‘stand up’ with the team and senior managers from corporate development. This 15 minute conversation is one of the daily tools of agile working, the idea being that if everyone stands up meetings are more likely to be brief.

We talked through what we did yesterday, our plan for day 2 of the design sprint and highlighted the changes we had made to the programme based on yesterday's feedback.

Then it was deciding which design opportunities to take forward, done by vote. This helped the team think about the main job for today: getting out and talking to real users of the service. They had an interview guide to help shape conversations with members of the public.

User research is really important as it helps us make sure we build something that fits the needs of citizens -- rather than spending time solving the wrong problem. It helps us deliver services that work best for people.

This wasn’t something everyone was feeling confident to do!

After an hour in Chelmsford public library, though, the team were very much enjoying speaking directly to people and understanding how and why people use the service.

They came away with a clearer idea of what their user needs were for the particular service they are working on: and also were pleased that they’d broken through their initial nerves and interviewed people. Doing this made clear how important some services are to people, and the potential large impact we can have when we redesign them. That’s why it’s important we understand the problem before we decide the direction we take to solve it.

It also became evident that to understand the user needs you need to adopt a particular mindset: neutral, curious and not solution-driven.

What happens tomorrow

Tomorrow, we’ll begin to think about potential solutions. The aim for day 3 is to take the user needs we have identified to come up with ideas for how to meet these.

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