Working out loud: DPA Calculator Project – Designing for Real Users

1 Jun 2015, 11:15 am

Following the product discovery workshop on 14th April, developer iEG4 created a bespoke version of the DPA calculator for each local authority partner.

Our local authority partners are:

Picture: iStockphoto/nuiiun

Picture: iStockphoto/nuiiun

  • City of York Council
  • Devon Council
  • Kirklees Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
  • London Borough of Lewisham
  • South Gloucestershire Council

Calderdale Council have also been valued participants in discovery work and other discussions.

Each council has committed to carrying out user testing on their calculator to feed into the product development process. The calculator is being built first and foremost as a self-service tool for members of the public. It is likely to be used at a time of elevated anxiety and uncertainty, possibly even crisis, and for these reasons we have placed a huge emphasis on usability throughout this project.

Each partner local authority has their own bespoke version of the calculator that reflects their council’s brand. They can also customise them further to reflect local factors, edit text and choose where to direct users following the calculation. This is particularly helpful if they want to maintain a consistency of language and terminology with other information they provide.

Despite these small differences between authorities, the architecture and flow of the tool is essentially the same for each one, so we were confident that across the group we would uncover any key issues.

The objectives of our user testing

All authorities worked to the same user testing plan and series of user scenarios (although some gathered additional feedback) which was designed to find out if participants:

  • got the right answers – it is a calculator after all!
  • found any critical errors (where they couldn’t progress any further or got the wrong answer)
  • found non-critical errors (where they made an error but were still able to complete the activity with the correct answer)
  • identified potential areas of confusion or frustration
  • could find ways we can improve the user experience

See the user testing plan and scenarios we used.

Over 45 people participated in the user trial, and the results were fed back on a conference call on Friday 15th May.

The outcomes of the user testing

The overall response was positive, and users generally found it a useful tool. Encouragingly, similar issues were widely reported. In many cases it was the same small details that were catching users out and causing confusion.

On reviewing the feedback, we created a list of necessary changes. These changes fall into two categories:

  • Architectural changes to the calculator – these are for iEG4 to pick up.
  • Text-based changes to the descriptions and wording used in the calculator forms and results – all of the text on the screen in the calculator is under the control of the local authorities so these changes come to them to complete.

What Next?

The official show-and-tell of this product is on Friday 12th June in London as part of a 3-hour discovery session focusing on financial aspects of adult social care information.

The audience for this event is primarily local authority web managers, those working in adult social care and in particular those who are responsible for the information provision requirement of the Care Act.