Weeknote 17th April 2023 – Testing with some risk

I wrote this a while back but just posting now we are out of the local election restrictions on communicating government work.

Not written for a couple of weeks due to the much needed bank holiday, which we spent doing some redecorating and sorting out the garden. We also made it to see George Takai’s musical about the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II, and a couple of nice meals out.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on two main threads of work: testing designs for publishing features on GOV.UK Forms and moving forward research with four of our private beta partner departments.

My colleagues have been working on some new features to enable form creators to edit forms that they have already made live for their end users. After exploring various patterns they landed on a model of making a draft of a live form that is edited and then pushed to replace the existing live form. I’ve been testing this with a range of users, some who have been working with the product for a some time, and others who had not seen it before. This has allowed us to test the scenarios we think will come up where people edit their own forms, and where people inherit forms that need editing or need to pick up the task from others.

One of these I ran in production with a real form that was live. Given that editing live forms involves a certain amount of risk for form creators it was good to get an example of someone authentically feeling this. There’s some things that just aren’t quite the same with scenarios that take away the stakes involved in things you’re testing. I definitely saw more pauses for thought and checks with this person, as they were aware of how their actions could genuinely affect real users.

The design has tested pretty well, and largely validated that they work. However, as ever we saw some useful things that indicate areas in the interface to tweak.

The other side of things has been partner work. We’d onboarded four new partners over the last month or so, and there was a backlog of work to do to properly understand their processes and test the form builder with them building their forms. As we’ve been down to just me on user research on the project I decided to batch these up and run the various streams of research with them concurrently. This led to some work templating up the process for this kind of research with partners, and then running all of each type of session across a few days. We learned lots from this, as we’re starting to get into some longer and more complex forms people are ‘translating’ from PDF and Word files onto our product.

As it happens this was very useful preparation to do as we have just welcomed some new colleagues who are joining the team to take up this side of the work. So everything is nicely organised to bring another user researcher into the process. I spent some time working with them last week, and have some more to come this week.

This week I’ll be rounding off the analysis and sharing of the last two weeks research, and planning the next round of feature testing which is on features to create routes through forms depending on the answers people give.

Outside of work, I enjoyed seeing James Holden play live in Hackney last week. I’ve been a big fan of James since I was at University, which is now a scarily long time ago. I last saw him DJ back in 2006 when he was at the height of his Nathan Barley referencing dance music phase. It was nice to see him so many years later and catch up on the eclectic direction his music has taken since then. I’ve been on a bit of a live music booking spree, and looking forward to Field Day with Aphex Twin, New Order and Confidence Man at the O2, and the Chemical Brothers (again at the O2) over the rest of the year.






One response to “Weeknote 17th April 2023 – Testing with some risk”

  1. […] to the weeknotes! If you’ve missed them, I did actually write one I didn’t publish a few weeks back, but decided to leave in draft due to the restrictions we have on communicating about government […]

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