Twelve week-long sprints to define a clear vision for NHS.UK. It’s a tall order.

The project team is made up of two sides; strategy and build. You can’t have one without the other. We are creating a vision and a plan, but we’re also making prototypes to explain that thinking.

I’m Nayeema, It’s my role to lead in the build side of the project.

This blog post will give you an idea of our approach to delivery and what you can expect to see over the next 12 weeks.

As a team, one of the things we did first was to establish principles for our project which guide the way we work:

Bring together lots of different expertise and ideas to build the best service for users

Team NHS.UK Alpha consists of people from NHS England, Department of Health, NHS Choices (HSCIC) as well as individuals with digital development and clinical expertise who’ve joined specifically for this project. And here’s what they do.

Matt, Martin, Kim and Paul discuss the development wall

Listen to what users tell us and design for everyone

We’re going to be relentlessly user-focussed in our approach to delivery. 86% of adults are using the internet and we want to understand how they expect to interact online with the health and care system. However, we can’t stop there. This is a health and care system for all and it is just as important to think about the needs of those who aren’t online. As part of our work we’ll be talking and testing our ideas with users, health care professionals, digital inclusion groups and 3rd sector organisations to ensure our output is well-informed.

Challenge existing ideas and processes and challenge our own ideas

Over the 12 weeks, the team will be building prototypes to illustrate areas of digital opportunity across the health and care system. This will need to look at some of big questions such as how will NHS.UK support self-care and patient empowerment? and what do we mean personalisation? For more on this, read Dan Sheldon’s (strategy and standards lead) recent blog post on the challenges we face.

Similar to the Design Council ‘double-diamond’ approach, we began by creating broad user experience maps on a number of topic areas (e.g type 2 diabetes, mild to moderate anxiety and depression), noting the interactions with the health and care system and creating a detailed picture with data from interviews with patients and health care professionals.

Type 2 Diabetes user experience map

We then compared the maps, looking to see if we could spot common interactions and pain points – areas where we could explore digital solutions. There will be more on this in a future post by Matt Harrington (product manager).

Having a user-led approach has helped us take a step back from the systems and structures currently in place and understand where users may really benefit from digital change.

Design with data and use user feedback to iterate

Aside from the research interviews and user testing of prototypes we are building, we are also pouring over analytics data of existing services and reading research material too. There is a lot out there. Once we absorb that, we distill it by creating walls like this facts and figures wall on type 2 diabetes.

facts and figures

Always use clear English and make the difficult easy to understand

Inevitably, through the work we’re doing we are coming across a lot of jargon and technical complexity. It can be tough to navigate through but the constant reminder of the end-user is keeping us on track.


Be open and transparent in our work. We’ll show what we’re doing by talking and blogging about it.

We’ve taken the decision to share as much as we can about what we’re doing, as we’re doing it. We’ll blog in detail about the user research we do, the strategic thinking, the prototypes we create, the show and tells we do and plenty more. We’ll share lessons learned in addition to what went well. It can be a bit daunting to be as open as this, but we think it is the best way to have a well-informed alpha.

Follow Nayeema on Twitter at @NayeemaC

Leave a comment