In last week’s Budget announcement, Chancellor George Osborne declared that by 2015 the government will move to a “digital by default” approach to its transactional services. Aware that many users of these services may not be digitally-savvy, user experience has been placed at the very heart of this promise. With the document stating that:
“The government will transform the quality of digital public services by committing that from 2014 new online services will only go live if the responsible minister can demonstrate that they themselves can use the service successfully.”
Oh to be a fly on the wall as all the MPs start testing these online services! Although a big step forward was senior civil servant Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary at Department for Communities and Local Government, joining Twitter this week (and yes, it has been confirmed that it’s actually him tweeting!)
The call to move government services online has come under fire, with Socitm stating that at least 58 per cent of council web sites are simply not up to the job of supporting the move. In its recently published Digital by Default strategy, The Local Government Association (LGA) has also expressed concern that millions of people could be lost in the digital divide. Figures reveal that more than eight million people in the UK have yet to use the internet – this is approximately 16.3 per cent of the UK’s adult population. Something that Martha Lane Fox’s Race Online programme is having a big impact in improving.
While both reports present valid points, the government’s drive towards digital services shows no sign of slowing down and a fantastic user experience will be vital. If users can’t get to grips with a service immediately they just won’t use it. With citizens now accustomed to using social networks and simple cloud-based apps in the personal lives, government has to keep pace with rapidly rising expectations. Simplicity and an intuitive interface are essential for user adoption. This rule applies, not just to citizen-facing technology, but the systems that are deployed to support public sector organizations behind-the-scenes. With the need to drive efficiencies and productivity still top of the government’s agenda, tools that are rolled out to support public sector workers actually need to be used.
Due to their complexity, many traditional ICT systems, such as SharePoint, deployed to enable pan-government collaboration and improve efficiencies have failed. If it’s easier to use email than the platform that is in place to share files, people fall back into old habits and revert to the technology that they are most familiar with. For more tips on how to make collaboration technology work for your organization, you can read my tips here.
Huddle is combines government-level security with an intuitive user interface to ensure that it meets the requirements of both users and the IT departments. Already used by 75% of central UK government departments, Huddle is not only used to work with internal teams, but also cross-departments and with external contractors.
Take a look at how the public sector is using Huddle here