So what should we do with this research?

This is a question that researchers often hear at the end of a playback session. Especially one where we’re sharing findings or insights and not detailed recommendations of what to do next.

Most of the time there are two questions that teams should ask themselves:

  1. Which of these problems/opportunities do we care about now? If you were going to prioritise, which are the most pressing? Which might contribute most to the team meeting goals?
  2. What do we think we could do that might make things better for our users? What different things could we do that might address this opportunity?

A good researcher can help a team understand what opportunities are available to pursue. They will help you to see a problem in a different way – to frame the problem from the users point of view.

But you shouldn’t expect the researcher to come back and ‘tell you what to do’.

From insights to actions

Getting to actions from insights is a team sport that requires a range of inputs. The researchers role is to make the ‘user’ input as rich and insightful as possible. They should then to work with the team explore and evaluate the possibilities that emerge.

What makes an insight actionable?

To make a research insight actionable it must answer two key questions:

  • what is happening?
  • why is it happening?

Research that is not actionable answers only the first of these questions. If we don’t know why something is happening, we are not well placed to contemplate what action we should take.

The better the ‘why’ explanation, the better equipped a team will be to come up with clear and confident actions in response.

Research alone won’t tell you what to do

Sometimes when people say they want the research to be actionable, what they really mean is that they want the research to tell them what to do. They want research to answer a third question:

  • what should we do?

Sometimes the right course of action is 100% obvious, but often that is not the case. It would be a foolish or naive researcher who thinks they have the full set of knowledge required to provide this answer.

User research is just one of the pieces of information that product managers or designers need to decide what they should do.

Lenses for decision making

To make a good decision about what to do next, the team really needs to look through at least four lenses:

  • what is the user perspective?
  • how does this align to our product strategy?
  • what are the technical (feasibility) issues?
  • what are the financial/business implications? (cost / revenue)

Or, to use a more familiar framework, is the solution desireable, feasible and viable.

Image: Niti Bhan

Most of the time, user researchers aren’t in possession of this full set of information. They will likely have strong and informed views. But don’t be disappointed if they can’t point you straight to the perfect solution.

Designers and product managers are usually much more expert in coming up with and evaluating solutions.

Designers are trained to take a problem and think about how you might be able to take many different approaches to solving itTeams should use the designer to make sure they’re generating and evaluating lots of possible solutions.

Product Managers tend to be the experts in balancing all the different needs and helping the team to choose the best of the solutions on offer.

Researchers can help represent the end user perspective through out this process. They can play a role in helping design a way of evaluating proposed solutions from the users point of view.

Other team members are also vital in this process.

Engineers and technical representatives giving the feasibility perspective (and quite often some pretty amazing possible solutions that the designers might have missed).

Analysts and data scientists providing a different useful data sets to contribute to evaluating solutionsSometimes a colleague from legal, or marketing, or other parts of the organisation can be very useful in this process too.

Getting from insights to actions is a team sport

Its the responsibility of the researcher to make sure that the insights they bring to the team are useful. They need to explain the why and not just the what. But moving from insights to actions is a team sport and needs all the players to participate.

Original source – disambiguity

This blog is no longer being updated. If you’re interested in government technology, you can read about it on the GDS blog and the Technology at GDS blog.

Original source – Government technology

(For an English version of this blog – please click here)

Cuando hablamos de nuestro trabajo en el Reino Unido frecuentemente nos hacen la pregunta: ¿podría algo así funcionar también en otros países?

Durante los últimos cuatro años hemos estado colaborando con Gobiernos en América Latina aplicando nuestra metodología, y encontramos que la respuesta es: ¡Sí!

En nuestro primer proyecto en Guatemala en 2014, por ejemplo, evaluamos el impacto de enviar a los contribuyentes una carta que incorporaba hallazgos de las ciencias del comportamiento. La versión más efectiva de la carta incrementó el pago de impuestos en un 43%. Este efecto, además, se mantuvo en una medición realizada a los 12 meses de la intervención.

Colaborando con los gobiernos de Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, México y Perú, hemos, además, aplicado de manera exitosa nuestro marco metodológico EAST para responder preguntas como:

  • ¿Cómo podemos fomentar la asistencia docente?
  • ¿Cómo podemos alentar a las empresas a formalizarse y a cumplir con sus obligaciones fiscales?
  • ¿Cómo podemos alentar el involucramiento de los padres en el monitoreo de los servicios educativos?

A través de una serie de blogs estaremos compartiendo algunos de nuestros resultados en la región durante las próximas semanas.

Nos complace empezar esta serie con la publicación de la traducción al español* de nuestro marco metodológico principal EAST: Cuatro maneras simples de aplicar las ciencias del comportamiento.


EAST compila décadas de literatura académica y nuestra experiencia aplicando las ciencias del comportamiento a la política pública. EAST es un acrónimo compuesto por las palabras simplE, Atractivo, Social y a Tiempo.

Parte fundamental de nuestro trabajo en la región latinoamericana, ha sido también apoyar a los gobiernos en el desarrollo de sus capacidades. Además de traducir EAST, hemos traducido también nuestras cartas EAST para facilitar talleres en español, que estarán pronto a la venta. En los próximos meses también estaremos publicando una serie de nuestros documentos en español.

Esperamos que los responsables de la política pública en América Latina  encuentren en EAST una herramienta simple y práctica para hacer más efectivas las políticas públicas.

* Agradecemos al Instituto Mexicano de Economía del Comportamiento por su apoyo en la traducción de EAST

Original source – Behavioural Insights Team

An article in the current Private Eye Magazine has drawn our attention to the use that disability campaigner John Slater is making of our Freedom of Information service

In December 2016, Mr Slater asked the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to release the monthly “management information reports” received from contractors ATOS and Capita in relation to their work assessing eligibility for Personal Independence Payment benefits.

Mr Slater has pursued his request for over a year, and wasn’t put off by an initial response which stated that the information requested wasn’t held, nor a subsequent response refusing to release the material citing the contractors’ “commercial interests”.

In December 2017, a year after Mr Slater made his request, the Information Commissioner ordered the DWP to release the material, stating “The Commissioner has not been satisfied that disclosing the withheld information would be likely to damage the commercial standing of ATOS and Capita”. The Information Commissioner dismissed the DWP’s concerns that the information requested could be “misinterpreted in ways that could lead to reputational damage to both the Department and the PIP Providers as well as prejudice the efficient conduct of public affairs”.

The Information Commissioner’s decision notice was highly critical of the way the DWP had handled the case, noting the use of “standard paragraphs” rather than a discussion of the public interest tailored to the material in question, and DWP failing to engage promptly with the Information Commissioner, thus causing further delay.

The DWP have not yet complied with the Information Commissioner’s decision; they have appealed and a tribunal hearing is scheduled for April 2018.

This request is far from the only one showing Mr Slater’s persistence in pursuing the release of information held by the Department for Work and Pensions.

A request for Project Assessment Review Reports for the Universal Credit Programme that Mr Slater made in April 2016 was initially accepted and the department said they were considering it. Mr Slater chased up the lack of a response in June, and again in August and September, but when, six months after his original request, Mr Slater chased them again in October they deemed his persistence to be vexatious and rejected the request.

That request has now been further rejected by the DWP, who say that the information “if released would, or would be likely to, prejudice the free and frank provision of advice or which would otherwise, or would be likely otherwise to, prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.”

Mr Slater has referred that decision to the Information Commissioner too.

On the 5th of December 2017, Debbie Abrahams MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, deployed the Parliamentary procedure of a motion for “an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty” to seek the release of the documents to the Work and Pensions Committee. MPs agreed the motion unanimously.

The committee are currently in correspondence with the Government over redaction, and arrangements for access to the material.

The committee chair, Frank Field MP, has suggested that:

A couple of copies would be made. These copies will be kept securely and members would be invited to come to the Committee office to read them. No-one else, other than the committee members, will be invited to make this journey to our Committee office and members will not be able to make copies, or take notes, about the documents.

– so despite the decision by the House of Commons the public still might not get to see the material via that route.

Mr Slater has been in touch with us and told us he finds the service provided by WhatDoTheyKnow extremely helpful when submitting and managing FOI requests.

He said that the ease of submitting requests and built in workflow that keeps track of time, reminding users that a response should have been issued, is invaluable. He also likes that a single platform exists where information obtained by its users is made available for everyone, as that embodies the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.

Image: John-Mark Kuznietsov (Unsplash)

Original source – mySociety

Hello, I’m Sally Hudson, Product Owner for the Prepare for Universal Credit service.

We’re an online, internal DWP service that helps Jobcentres and other DWP teams get colleagues ready to deliver Universal Credit (UC). We bring together all of the information they need, give a clear overview of progress as well as areas of risk or delay as teams manage the 26-week preparation period.

Sally Hudson, DWP Digital Product Owner

Sally Hudson, DWP Digital Product Owner

The service is in beta. As a first-time product owner, developing the service has been a really interesting journey for me, and for the rest of my brilliant team too.

Going digital

My background is in managing projects but not on the digital side of the fence. In my previous role in UC implementation it became apparent that a digital service could help colleagues in Jobcentres as well as support the business in rolling out UC.

I’d seen multi-disciplinary agile teams in action and liked the ways in which those teams worked and how they approached problems. So I put myself forward for the role of product owner for what would become the Prepare for Universal Credit service.

Starting with user needs

A bespoke two-week Digital Academy course later and the team was ready. We began our Discovery phase by starting out with user research. The service is designed around our users’ needs so this was really important insight which told us what the problems were and confirmed who our users would be. The importance of focusing on what the user needs, not what they want was the first major thing I learned; they are two very different things!

The Prepare For Universal Credit digital service

The Prepare For Universal Credit digital service

By January 2017, following prototyping, user research, user story creation and associated development, the team watched with baited breath (and lots of cheers) as the Minimal Viable Product of our service came to life and we could make it available to our first set of users.

Moving into beta – and dealing with challenges

Beta gave us the chance to scale up both delivery of the service and the pace of delivery too. We continued to iterate the service but it wasn’t without its challenges.

At the outset we were a relatively inexperienced team. We failed fast by not creating user stories that described the service we needed. We stopped, took advice and then reset our approach by sharing our lessons learned and revising our approach. But this was also a key learning – it’s OK to fail. The key for me and the team was to learn from it and move on.

We also had to consider an enormous amount of content and we had to do a lot of work to make it work for users. We designed new content that provides a clear, auditable list of tasks that tracked progress and brought together all the information our users needed in one place.

Developing as a team

During beta not only has the service grown but the team has grown too.

We have all benefited from working in a multi-disciplinary team supporting our users. Our personal levels of experience and knowledge have increased and we’ve been able to support two apprentices and a group of interns as well.

The Prepare for Universal Credit team

The Prepare for Universal Credit team

As for me, I’ve learned so much in such a short space of time. The opportunity to work with such a great team and in an agile environment has been one I wouldn’t have missed.

It’s not about individuals, the team delivers the service. Everyone has skills, knowledge and experience to bring and together we work through the problems to consider the best and simplest way to solve them.

What’s next?

Feedback from users who we’ve worked with over the last 12 months has been incredible. They really like the presentation of the information and find the service easy to use, especially when they are supporting numerous Jobcentres.

So far the service has successfully supported 148 Jobcentres across the country. It was the first significant sized service that DWP hosted in Amazon Web Services and we use Gov.UK Notify to send emails to our users.

But we’re not stopping there – we’re currently supporting another 253 Jobcentres with more to come and we’ll continue to iterate the service. We’re currently considering how to open up access to users within HM Revenue and Customs and testing a new feature that allows us to better manage content so we can make changes more quickly and in a more manageable way.

I’m so proud of service and of team I work with. It’s been a steep learning curve for me, but of all the projects I’ve been involved in within DWP, working to develop this service has been one my proudest moments.

Original source – DWP Digital

Join us on March 13th for a user research workshop with Hilary Chan and Vita Mangan


Interactive workshop with thought element and hands-on activities

What you’ll learn

  • The common mistakes people and organisations make that trick them into thinking they’re doing user research when they’re not.
  • How to identify gaps in previous research and recognise poor user research practice.
  • What conducting good, user-centred user research looks like and how to avoid falling into the traps of ‘user-light’ research.
  • How to plan user research that brings together good design, user needs, and business needs.


Conducting user research is fundamental to designing good services, products, and experiences. This means speaking to your users, testing with your users, understanding the environment of the users; in effect, actually engaging with your users.

This doesn’t mean you need to throw away all those past heuristic evaluations, customer blueprints, and personas. These techniques are useful but don’t mistake them with including real users during design and development.

This workshop will show attendees common mistakes people make when planning user research, demonstrate the difference in outcomes between bringing users in vs “expert” judgement. After this, you’ll be able to build better research plans that place user needs in the centre of the design process.

 Grab your tickets here

Original source – dxw

In the UK, 9.5 million households can save over £300 a year by switching energy supplier. For many people that is a substantial boost to their household budget, and yet in a survey of UK consumers, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that 34% of respondents had never considered switching supplier.

This can be explained in part by status quo bias, where consumers have a preference for the energy deal they are currently on, tending to avoid the risk of changing tariffs. Some academics have also argued that consumers may also perceive the current default as the recommended course of action set out by policymakers.

Last year, the CMA reported that customers have been paying £1.4 billion a year more than they would in a fully competitive market. In response to this, the CMA recommended a series of reforms to the energy regulator, including:

Ofgem-led testing programme – The CMA recommended that Ofgem establish an ongoing programme to test and implement communications to improve customer engagement, including testing the effect of sending letters to consumers showing them the cheapest deals available to them.

Database Remedy – Suppliers have been required to give Ofgem details of all customers who have been on their (relatively expensive) default tariff for more than 3 years. These details will be put on a secure database to allow rival suppliers to contact customers by letter and offer cheaper and easy-to-access deals based on their actual energy usage.

BIT have supported Ofgem with these reforms, and the results of initial testing are now in! Before we highlight key results from this initial testing, it is worth noting that the two trials described below were run at different periods of time, for different lengths of time and with different populations – for this reason, they are not directly comparable.

Cheaper Market Offers Letter

The Cheaper Market Offers Letter (CMOL) trial was carried out by Ofgem’s own Behavioural Insights Unit between June and August 2017. This was Ofgem’s first large-scale trial, conducted in collaboration with two domestic energy suppliers, using Ofgem’s new licence powers.

As Ofgem’s evaluation partner, we provided research support around the design of the trial and the drafting of the analysis strategy, and led the analysis of the trial. The trial report was published by Ofgem in November.

In the CMOL trial, around 150,000 customers on default tariffs were randomly allocated to receive either:

  • No letter (control group)
  • An Ofgem-branded letter showing personalised cheaper deals from rival suppliers
  • A Supplier-branded letter showing personalised cheaper deals from rival suppliers

We then compared switching rates for each group for thirty days after the letters were sent. An example of the Ofgem branded letter is shown below.

We find that letters increased switching from a baseline of 1% to an average of 2.9%. In terms of the number of switchers, more than 1,700 additional people switched as a result of the letters.

Our analysis demonstrates that the messenger is important. The supplier-branded letters were more effective at driving switching compared to the Ofgem-branded letter, possibly due to higher brand recognition. If the supplier letter were scaled up nationally, we estimate that it would lead to hundreds of thousands of customers switching.

One of the most striking findings of the trial is that the letters didn’t just increase the likelihood that customers switched, but also the quality of switches. After controlling for differences in potential savings across customers, those that switched after receiving one of the letters saved on average £50 more than customers that switched on their own accord in the control group.

Interestingly, the letters encouraged both internal switching (to a different tariff with their current supplier) and external switching (to another supplier).

We are delighted by the results of this trial, which show that simple, low cost interventions have the potential to encourage consumers to switch energy tariff and to save more when doing so. We also recommend that this approach is adapted and tested in other regulated markets, such as home insurance or mobile phone contracts.

Database remedy trial

In November 2016, Ofgem launched a smaller scale trial to test the CMA database remedy approach. The full results were recently published by Ofgem.

Around 2,400 customers who had been on a default tariff for over three years were randomly allocated to receive either:

  • No letter (control group)
  • An Ofgem-branded letter showing personalised cheaper deals (Best offer letter)
  • Up to six marketing letters from rival suppliers (simulating the CMA remedy)

Customers were sent a letter from their supplier advising them that they could opt out of being sent energy deal offers. After 28 days, those who didn’t opt out then received either the cheaper deals letter or marketing material in January 2017.

The CMA approach and the Best offer letter resulted in around a two fold increase in switching (against the control). The effect of the Best offer letter was particularly encouraging given it was a single communication and most customers in the CMA arm received multiple (up to six) communications.

It’s fantastic to see Ofgem building their internal capability to run these kinds of trials through their newly established Behavioural Insights Unit. Both trials demonstrate how testing what works is incredibly important before rolling out competition remedies aiming to encourage consumer engagement.

In the case of the Database Remedy trial, a single Best offer letter from Ofgem performs almost as well as up to six marketing letters. In the larger CMOL trial, a letter presenting cheaper offers branded by a customer’s own supplier is more effective than a letter sent from Ofgem. We are confident that these valuable insights can help Ofgem (and other regulators) drive more competition between suppliers and enable customers to save more money by switching to better deals.

Original source – Behavioural Insights Team

We created FixMyStreet Pro to help councils and city governments better manage inbound street reports and issues from their residents.

In the past few months we’ve rolled out the FixMyStreet Pro service to new customers including Bath & North East Somerset, Buckinghamshire and Rutland councils; each of whom are taking the opportunity to get rid of legacy software, simplify their operations and make use of a much simpler and intuitive way for their residents and staff to make and manage reports.

We’re now looking for input from councils to help us guide the next phase of our service development on FixMyStreet Pro.

Having spoken to dozens of councils we think we can help them save more money by extending FixMyStreet Pro to other areas like waste and environment services and we would like to explore how much development work that might entail.

Not just for streets

As FixMyStreet’s name would suggest our focus so far has been on handling issues related to highways like potholes, lighting and gullies (drains to me and you), but FixMyStreet Pro already handles reports for a whole range of issues beyond streets.

Typically council users of FixMyStreet Pro have around 13 to 15 different self-selected categories that they accept reports on – each of which can be directed to different teams or departments. Tree reports can be sent directly to the parks department, graffiti or abandoned cars can be passed along to the just the right team in street cleansing.

These ‘front end reports’ all have one thing in common: all we need to make the report is a location and description, plus a contact for the reporter, which could be as simple as an email address or phone number.

But once you get deeper into the glamorous world of bins and waste services for individual residents the situation gets a little more complicated.

Missed bin collections, requests for recycling bags, bulky waste collection – these all require the resident to be identified, the particular property to be checked with the UPRN (Unique Property Reference Number), and in some cases payments levied and collected.

FixMyStreet Pro doesn’t currently offer these additional waste services, although it doesn’t require a huge leap of imagination to see how we could add these adjacent features to the service, not least because we already do a lot of the pieces across our other commercial services.

Fortunately there has already been a lot of work done to define common standards, such as the Local Waste Service Standards Project from 2016 and more recent work by individual councils to apply some of this work – we also have a lot of our own research and experience to draw upon with numerous specific feature requests from our current local authority clients.

Let’s talk

To make this happen we’d like to recruit at least two or three friendly councils available for interviews and possibly a workshop or two, to help us determine specific requirements and test out some of our early prototypes and hypotheses. From here we’d aim to develop these features into fully working aspects of FixMyStreet Pro over the summer.

If this is of interest to you, if you’re already grappling with this in your own council, or you’d just like to find out more, please get in touch with and we can have a chat.

In the meantime you can always find out more about what FixMyStreet Pro can do on one of our regular Friday Webinars.

Image: Smabs Sputzer CC BY 2.0

Original source – mySociety

Well we’ve made it through the first month of 2018, so we are definitely overdue a recap of what we’ve achieved in 2017, and what we have planned for 2018

2017 recap

Reading through my post from the start of last year, it’s reassuring that we did hit quite a lot of the targets we set for ourselves. Those we didn’t get round to were mostly because we were so busy with our day job that it left no time for our own pet projects (open-sourcing our Intranet), or factors outside of our control prevented us from starting others (waste collection day finder – more on that later).

So, without further ado, here’s a few of our high points from last year… is dead, long live!

Our proudest achievement was the promotion of to be the one and only website for the council, taking over as at the beginning of November. We started with a beta homepage, which went through a few tweaks here and there based on feedback from staff and the public, and, behind-the-scenes, the team worked tirelessly to migrate the final few remaining services from our old website, and put us well ahead of schedule for making the switch.

It has been 5 years in the making, starting out as the brainchild of Martin Wright, and going through a number of phases of furious development or being put on the back-burner depending on the outside demands on our resources. Throughout all of this time, it has been a project that we have all pushed for, and we wouldn’t be where we are now without the dedication of the current team and all of those involved with Project WIP who have since moved onto other pastures (looking at you Chris Jones, Louise Howells, Lewis Moorcroft, Lorna Perry, Steve Chamberlain, Cait Wrigley, Chris Ellis, Andy Burns, Rob Gallagher, Mike Sheridan, Florent Mauer), and those within the council supporting our work on a daily basis (pretty much everyone!).

Now that the dust has settled a little bit, there will be some blog posts to come from others in the team to explain the processes, trials and tribulations and honest hard work that went into this project.

Other websites

Spinning out of the work on our website, we’ve been honoured to be asked to design and build websites for other organisations, and council services that need something a bit flashier to help promote their services. Last year we launched 5, and we’ve got a number of requests in the pipeline for 2018.

Plans for 2018

Self-service – “My Shropshire”

One of the biggest projects Shropshire Council has ever undertaken – the Digital Transformation Programme (DTP) – is starting to bear fruit. A number of old back-office systems are being reviewed, and either upgraded or replaced with more joined-up solutions that will allow us to create a variety of online options for the public to interact with us.

One such system – our CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) is behind our current “self-service” offering, which primarily is a collection of online forms. It has its pros and cons, and most definitely could be improved, which is exactly what is going to happen over various stages during 2018.  Details are still being finalised, but the ultimate aim is to create a “My Shropshire” account for the public to use when they interact with us, which would tie into a number of other services and benefits beyond the simple eforms that we currently have.

Waste collection day finder (a.k.a Bin day finder)

This was planned to take place last year, however we realised that there were changes on the horizon for our service provider (Veolia) and for our own CRM that would potentially make any work planned redundant. Now that those changes are in progress, we’ll be looking to rebuild our bin day finder in the summer, and tie the functionality into our website and “My Shropshire” accounts to make it easier for people to view their scheduled collection days and print their own calendars.

More websites

We’ve got a few websites lined up between now and the end of March, one of which is the previously mentioned redesign/rebuild of the Shropshire CCG website. Also on the list is the continued work to revamp the Shropshire Learning Gateway, which will be an ongoing project of reviewing and rebuilding it service-by-service onto a new website, much in the same way we did when we with new.shropshire.

We’ve got two schools websites under development at the moment, which gives us a chance to flex our design skills for a different target audience, and these will act as our pilot for planning and rolling out a full service for schools.

As for the other websites underway – watch this space! improvements

As mentioned before, there is a lot of work happening to replace/improve and integrate back-office systems across the council, and these improvements will also have an impact on the website.

We will be rolling out web chat on our website to allow customers another way of contacting the council, which will initially be set up on a few key service pages before being fully available across the site.

As mentioned before, we will be starting the work to create a “My Shropshire” account, tied to our CRM.  This is an evolution of the standard “log in to use our forms” approach, which will see our web content enhanced with information relevant to whoever is logged in (i.e. on our Recycling and Rubbish pages you will automatically see when your next collection day, and the collection type). The account will also federate the login details with a number of other online systems being used across the council, so you will only need to remember one username & password, and sign in once to access them all.

Work is underway to merge the data behind the two of our main online directories (Family Information Directory and Shropshire Community Directory), and also have this tie more closely into our website.  This would again pull relevant information across onto certain pages, based on the geographic detail and the customers location (either from geolocation or the address data of the logged-in customer), which will help promote the services available on the directory and make it easier for people to find services relevant to them.

Last, but not least, we will be continuing to monitor how our website is being used, actively seeking feedback, and systematically reviewing each service to ensure that our design and content is the best we can make it.

Expanding the team

With all the work lined up for us, we will be taking on a few more developers to help spread the load. Initially we’ll be looking to give the opportunity to staff within the council, to allow people to learn new skills and try a different career path, but keep an eye on our Twitter account for news of external vacancies!

And beyond…

As per every year, there will always be a few unexpected opportunities and setbacks, and we are ready & willing to meet these & more!

Original source – Project WIP


S01 E03 – week ending 11 February 2018


I’ve been thinking a lot about the neutrality of user experience over the last week – the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ of user experience is more personal than it is production. Some of this has been around the casual language attached to ‘doing the UX’, ‘UXing the thing’, ‘ready for UX’ which negates this neutrality and assumes UX is an improvement after the design of the thing, not an intention made in the design. It seems like such a small thing, but sometimes noticing the semantics can help unlock a greater understanding.

I’ve also been thinking about the responsibility of specialists in seeding culture change and transformation – that we not only have the responsibility to inform stakeholders but to guide them in making good decisions for a channel they may not personally be experts in. Guiding good decisions in the digital channel and for digital customers is part (small as it may be) in helping organisations become more digitally mature and the best guidance helps to shape a consistent experience across channels, optimise in specific channels, and meet business requirements to boot.

Both of these thoughts put me in mind of a post I wrote four years ago – about the Cookie Monster and the Cargo Cult – and all the reflections come back to the importance of understanding beyond your UX / digital team on not just the what, but the why and the how of what is being aimed for.

I’ve also enjoyed reading articles about ethics in data science, how Facebook is throttling underground culture, and the aesthetics of female resistance.

Journalism and writing

This week hasn’t had much space for writing – a few interviews for Storge (Mayor of Derby / The Beyond frontman John Whitby, street portraiture from Carl Bull, and the experimental noise of Biscuit Mouth), and a first piece for a new-to-me publication. Always great to see a new issue of Louder Than War magazine get ready to hit the shelves too – this one has my interview with The Spook School and reviews of the Pearl Harts and Dream Wife amongst its pages. Find it in WHSmith or pre-order online here.

I’m slowly working my way through a literary / plot edit of my second novel and its fascinating (to me) how much of the story I’ve forgotten writing. I find myself pre-empting dialogue but not so much the twists and detail of the story, and what I’m really glad to find is it excites rather than drags me to the finishing of the third book. ICYMI – the books are a trilogy and the first instalment is out this year.


This week the nu-gaze duo I am in – SeiSui – released the first track from our forthcoming EP. Long Road Home is the first track we’ve put out in a while and featured guest vocalist Hannah from Dactylion, a brilliant band signed to our label Reckless Yes. You can hear it on Bandcamp here or watch our video here. I’m working on lyrics in a more focused way at the moment but as always the creativity has started to bleed, and ideas for other projects are nudging in around the edges.

We’re also in the planning stages for another release through Reckless Yes so this week has involved matching production and communication plans, and starting to map out the channel plan and specific activity.

What’s next?

I’m looking forward to my first LocalGov Digital Unmentoring call in ages and chatting with my random pairing and I’ve also got another day out this week with Dan Slee and Comms2Point0 as we deliver another sold out Essential Digital Skills for Comms workshop in Leeds.

It’s also the kick off for the next two Reckless Yes campaigns this week so looking forward to sharing music and news from two very, very special artists. And we’re in the planning stages for a special project for the label (as well as the aforementioned next release) so we’ll be having some conversations around that.

Original source – Sarah Lay