Weeknote 2nd September 2022 – Processing forms, planning research & a big presentation

A short week this week after a bank holiday. Feels even shorter due to writing the last weeknote late after the long weekend!

This week I’ve mainly been focusing on three things.

The first is continuing work with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to understand how they use their form that we are working with them on. We use the term ‘Processing’, although that doesn’t always feel right with forms that are used by services that involve conversations and lots of different types of interactions with people, including face to face. We’ve been working with Senior Coastal Operations Officers to see how they deal with incoming forms.

This involved creating a whole bunch of forms with information on them that was fictionasl, but needed to be plausible for us to get realistic responses from the staff and measure the time it takes to process them. It also involved writing in character as 18 different fictional members of the public setting out the reasons why they might want to become a volunteer coastguard. Not something I would have envisaged myself doing before, but always good to have new challenges!

The second focus was lots of thinking and discussing about what we need to learn more broadly to influence the design of GOV.UK Forms. A chunk of this is understanding some of the mental models people who create document based forms have about turning them into online digital forms. We need to understand some assumptions they have which are quite abstract and they may not have spent much time thinking about. Feels like we need some activities to somehow extract this information from their heads without influencing them. It’s not obvious yet what we will do to achieve this, but lots of thinking done so far.

Third focus was looking ahead to next week when I am going to demo the prototype of GOV.UK Forms to Alex Chisholm, the COO of the Civil Service. I’ve been using it a lot so know it all pretty well, but running through what will have to be a very concise and quick demo has needed a bit of thought. Fingers crossed that the ‘live tech demo’ gods look favourably on me next week…

I’ve also been booking travel to our next all team face to face working day in Manchester the week after next. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, spending time working with them, and going on a work trip which I haven’t done for a really long time.

I’ve not done too much in terms of other projects. I’ve been fighting off a cough that has had me a bit under the weather. Several COVID tests tell me it isn’t that, but I’ve been trying to relax a bit hoping it will pass soon.

Next week I’ll be doing that live demo.. working with more Maritime and Coastguard Agency staff to run our processing exercises, and spending plenty of time trying to figure out how to do the mental models research described above.


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