In part 1 of this series, I talked about the different kinds of user needs our services have to meet – clinical, practical and emotional. Part 2 covered how we apply the 6 principles of the international standard for human-centred design.

This final post addresses the role of evidence – how we use it to shape our designs and check if they’re working in practice.

Research to drive designs

Most design research is formative – generating insights to shape our designs.

At the start of a piece of work, our research questions are more qualitative than quantitative. We need to understand what might be happening for our users and why. We can put precise numbers on that later.

Experts have found that testing a design early with just a small number of users can catch major issues quickly. Fixing problems at this stage is cheap and effective, compared to trying to address them later when we’ve invested time and effort in building things.

Repeating these small tests many times, we engage with surprisingly large numbers of users. By the time of NHS Expo in September, the NHS.UK team had conducted research with a total of 767 patients and carers, and 83 clinicians and frontline staff.

As a new service comes to life, we can try out different versions with parallel samples of users, and see the interactions between multiple different design elements. The purpose of these “split tests” is still to help us refine our design, and make decisions based on facts, not opinions.

facts not opinions inscription

Evidence that designs are working

We must also show summative evidence – proof to ourselves and our stakeholders that our designs are working.

The good news: our digital services generate evidence every time people use them. We set up web analytics, performance dashboards and regular cycles of reporting on everything we design and deliver.

Beyond adoption and use by citizens and NHS staff, we also need to demonstrate impacts on the wider health service: better experiences for our users, more efficient use of resources, and improved health outcomes for everyone.

Want to join us, and help us keep users at the centre of what we do? We are currently advertising for designers and junior designers to work with our teams in Leeds. User research roles will also open shortly.

One response to “How we do user-centred design for citizen-facing services – part 3”

  1. Comment from Ben Childs

    What a great series of articles. Really impressive process and approach, demonstrated with real insights and frontline examples. So good to see the NHS Digital design approach explained with such clarity, and more that it actually utilises such a cohesive, thorough and considered design approach to health services.

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