Weeknotes 21-25 October

Chelmsford’s been cloaked in autumnal drizzle all week, but our various product streams have been swelling into torrents of innovation and success.


The week started with some training from Site Improve on how to use their site-checking software, with a special focus on accessibility.

This was really interesting, with the editorial and policy control of particular interest to our content designers. It’s vital to make sure that everyone has the know-how to make and maintain accessible content, so our next job is thinking about how to share what we’ve learned more widely.

We’ve also been having some really helpful form chats with our colleagues in Tech Services. We’re hoping to get their thoughts on our forms guidance work next week.

Financial assessments

This week we've been progressing our research plan, consolidating the data we have around Financial Assessments in Essex and understanding more about what's happening in other Authorities.  We’ve started building up our blueprint of the current state and have collated and started to assess the readability of all of the correspondence that’s in use.

We’ve spent some time reviewing our current mapping with David Williams to bring in some vital service insight, and are still working out the best ways that we can engage with social workers to ensure we get a balanced picture of what’s happening around assessments today.

We’ve started to synthesise the learning gathered by listening to some very difficult conversations about Financial Assessments in the contact centre, and on Friday gathered in FutureGov's London studio to work up some of the hypotheses we might explore.  We'll be sharing these at Monday's Show and Tell so if you can come along and share your insight then we'd be really grateful.

We needed to test the website on mobile, but couldn't figure out how to capture both the mobile screen and hand and body movements. Magda came up with the idea of using her GoPro camera.

We stuck it on the wall in a way that let the user use the phone normally, but also allowed our user researchers to observe what was going on.

This configuration worked the best, the camera just hovered above the user’s hands and doesn’t block their view of their own screen.

We also set the laptop at the corner so it will capture another angle of the user’s hands and body position.

This way we not only captured what was happening on the screen but could also observe what users were doing with the their hands and bodies. So, top tip: look for meeting rooms with glass walls for you to stick your GoPro to.

A GoPro camera stuck on glass to observe user testing on a mobile phone
Thinking outside the box in our DIY testing lab

Step by step

We have an initial adult social care step by step prototype using the GDS step by step navigation pattern. We know how this works on a website but not how it would fit with local government content and our new ECC website structure.

We set out to find out. We wanted to test this first draft with users. We know this is just the beginning and even before testing we saw things that don’t really fit in the flow. But there’s nothing like hearing feedback from users to help you better frame your own thoughts about what we’re trying to achieve.


Ben and Sheila did our first bit of face-to-face user testing on the Highways reporting tool as it is now.

We are doing a few more next week to get more insights on how users interact with the tool and pages. I reviewed and provided feedback on an early prototype of the new reporting tool and I attended my first weekly meeting with the Highways project team.

Team highlight

Today we bid adieu to delivery manager, Matt Cole. We marked the end of his nigh-on decade-long reign of gentle-nudging terror with lots of laughs, and some of the tartest Negronis in Essex.

We also welcomed our new service designer, Maria, who's arrived full of ideas about how to improve services for the residents of Essex.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Mr M P Cole Esq posted on

    Awesome work! Keep it up!


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