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Philip Watson

Hypothesis-led, person-centered design

Let's call it the bridge between business requirements and customer needs

What have I done?

Office for National Statistics App

Lead UX on a product to help staff improve completion rates for the 2021 UK Census. We researched, designed, user tested and implemented the entire product as a Progressive Web App (PWA).

Challenge

ONS needed a knowledge repository for the huge numbers of staff who will be onboarded for the 2021 Census. The staff will be out in the field, so they will need information at their fingertips to help them do their jobs. None of these staff will be hired until two years from the date of the project!

Action

I reviewed the documentation from their own discovery phase and developed a research and test plan to fill in the gaps.

I paid attention to the information architecture of the product, and the experience of ONS staff who work in the field.

After all the research had been gathered I arrived at two hypotheses that would be advantageous for ONS to test.

Output

I produced a set of customer journeys, user journeys and user flows for the product. This enabled me to produce extensive clickable prototype, using Sketch and Marvel.

The prototype was tested with existing Field Officers, asking them to complete the user flows I had mapped out.

User testing showed our hypotheses were sound.

We delivered a tested and technically feasible solution that could be quickly delivered within budget. We were able to present the findings to the team at ONS who were very happy both with our output and the way we had worked with them over the course of the project.

Outcome

ONS were able to use our deliverables to produce a public tender for development of the product. We competed for and won the tender. I was able to work with the development team to bring the solution to life.

As a follow-up study I performed usability testing on some mobile websites. Some behaviour in our testing for ONS had highlighted that there are numerous ways to design a menu on a mobile website, so I wanted to delve deeper into this.

University Website & Portal

UX Architect on this large project: a ground-up redesign of a top UK university website and portal. With over 100 stakeholder groups and the fortune of the university resting on the outcome, this was a huge responsibility.

Challenge

A top-15 UK university approached us to completely redesign their digital presence - website, portal & micro-sites.

The existing external website was structured purely from an organisational view, making it difficult for users to navigate the site.

The internal-facing portal suffered from a lack of clarity over what was publicly accessible and what was not.

Action

I worked with our team to create a project plan, breaking down 100 user groups into functional sub-projects.

We kicked off by running a design sprint, which highlighted some value-added features.

Work on the sub-projects was mapped out by me to account for the available budget and time constraints, as well as their commercial importance to the client.

For each sub-project I engaged with key stakeholders and users, leading workshops, ascertaining needs and requirements. These were all assimilated by me and my team until we had the outline of a solution.

A bunch of sentiment sketches, produced for the university project.
Sentiment sketches produced for the project

During the course of the project I focused extensively on the information architecture of the new website and portal. Numerous experiments were conducted, at different scales, both online and in person, giving both qualitative and quantitative results.

I took on board the data to craft a cohesive narrative around the proposed solution to the myriad and often conflicting requirements of the project.

Output

Having developed a functional prototype for my solution, I pitched this to the client, who agreed to adopt it.

The work then began to convey the efforts of the team to the wider stakeholder base, which I did through a series of presentations, to both small and large audiences.

I converted my documentation into hundreds of tickets for the project backlog. These were then prioritised by the developers and the client, and development began.

In addition to this, I also worked closely with the third party visual design agency to write briefs and specifications for them. We worked together to ensure that the output was in line with the solution vision, using regular critiques and feedback.

Outcome

The solution vision was laid out for everyone to agree on. The designs produced by the third party agency met the requirements of the solution vision.

This was a strategic project, as it set the course for multi-channel marketing propositions. It had to take account of how the university presents itself to prospective students, current students, international students, staff and researchers at competing universities, as well as the wider world and media.

The design delivered on all fronts, setting a roadmap for the university's market engagement both internally and externally for years to come.

Javascript Games

When working all the time with teams and stakeholders, it's nice to take a break and work on an idea that's entirely your own! I have developed two games, both written entirely in plain JavaScript.

Mutually Destructive Metrics

I wanted to explore how people relate to questions of ethics in a business/tech industry context. I made Mutually Destructive Metrics as a response to this.

Title screen from Mutually Destructive Metrics
Mutually Destructive Metrics - The Game

The premise of the game is that you are in charge of a burgeoning tech firm, and you must respond to the various characters who come to you during each day.

How ethical you are in your responses starts to affect the success of the business. The game promotes focusing on more than just one of your KPIs to build more robust businesses.

Free Electron

I wanted to take a game from concept to launch, to experience what it was like to send something personal out into the world.

A gif of some Gameplay from Free Electron
Gameplay from Free Electron

I had an idea for a game that would be simple enough to implement, while still being fun and challenging to play. The idea was based around particles trying to escape the electromagnetic charge of their peers.

Players guide an electron through a series of puzzles, without being pulled into the orbit of the surrounding positrons and having their energy drained.

The result is a frenetic action puzzler. I thoroughly enjoyed making the game from scratch and launching it to the world.

Interface Design

When rejuvenating a familiar feature of a product, engaging with users is key to understanding how it is currently used, and how it could be used.

Filters interface
The finished filters interface

Challenge

The filters interface for this SaaS product was the result of unplanned growth over several years. The layout had become cluttered and hard to navigate.

Action

Heuristic analysis uncovered several problems with the interface. I devised a survey, which segmented respondents according to personas I had developed. The survey was embedded into the product to collect qualitative data.

From the responses, I was able to recruit a beta-testing group.

Output

I created a clickable prototype and worked with users in the beta-testing group to iterate on it. We produced a live version of the improved design and again went to our beta-testers for feedback.

The new design paid especial attention to mouse flow. Visual hierarchy was used to group similar functional items and highlight under-used features. Simple presets were added to the date range picker.

Outcome

Post-launch surveying showed a very postive reaction from users. One user commented that ‘it was like going from a Vauxhall to a Ferrari!’

In the two months following launch, twice as many people were using filters as before. Customer service calls relating to the interface fell to almost zero.

SaaS Survey Product

Although ServiveTick succesfully deploy millions of surveys a year to the customers of some of the largest banking and insurance companies in the UK, the preparation and sign-off of those surveys was cumbersome for staff.

Online surveys product
The SaaS surveys product

Challenge

Each survey was custom-built to the clients specification, approved by their budget holder, then scheduled for deployment to the live environment.

Clients also asked for surveys to be more compatible with mobile devices.

Action

I started with heuristic analysis and expert review of the current offering, taking in the whole process from first client contact to the code that's used on the page.

A system of templates was decided upon, with my designs being sketched, wireframed and prototyped. The specification was written for the revised product, which needed to include the wide array of features available in the legacy product.

Selected clients were invited to preview early developments of the product for validation.

Output

A shiny set of new survey templates which can each be rapidly adjusted to suit clients needs was produced. They displayed well on devices of all sizes, delivered the same performance with less load on the servers and were compatible with all surveys generated under the old system.

Outcome

The new surveys released members of the development team to work on other projects. Surveys could now be delivered within hours, rather than weeks.

The high level of automation in the setup process paved the way for users being able to self-serve.

Clients were pleased with the new look and feel, and the shorter turn-around.

Digital Transformation Project

Financial pressures compelled the council to reduce avoidable contact coming into the organisation. I was part of the team tasked with delivering the solution.

North Norfolk District Council website home page
North Norfolk District Council website home page

Challenge

No part of the process was simple.

Customer services kept unreliable paper tallies of the number of customers who came in and what they came in for, which were manually input into a spreadsheet at the end of the week.

There were multiple separate telephony services in the building, so it was not possible to trace how many calls had come in, or how many had been transferred internally.

The website was better, with good analytical data, but we still couldn’t tell whether any given visit resulted in a successful outcome, or whether the customer called or visited us as a result.

Action

I designed and developed a web app for the customer services team to capture visitor information. This worked for phone and face-face visits.

For the website we already had volumes, but no measure of customer satisfaction.

I designed and developed a light-weight, super-simple form that could be deployed on every page of the site and capture the precise information that we needed. We did some A/B testing with a small sample and launched the preferred solution.

The planning application pages were the most visited on the site by a wide margin, so I interviewed members of the planning team to scope their requirements. It turns out that their main external contact is with local architects, so I interviewed several of them to harvest their opinions of council services.

We organised a series of four workshops for staff to keep everyone up to speed and gain buy-in internally. With fifty people at each workshop, we had a great opportunity to perform card-sorting exercises, where we asked staff to categorise services under different headings.

Output

With large amounts of data now at our fingertips it was now clear where the low-hanging fruit were.

The single most requested piece of information across all channels was ‘what bin do I put out this week?’ I designed and developed a public-facing web app that tells you what bins to put out on what day, based on your address.

The website was verbose and labyrinthine. Working closely with departments I helped halve the number of pages, by heavily editing the copy and introducing new space-saving UI elements.

Finally we re-architectured the site to focus on the new transactional structure uncovered during the staff sessions. All services were categorised under the banners of Pay, Report, Apply and View. Popular content was prioritised at every level, as were services that were not getting the attention they deserved.

Outcome

The bin collection app was a huge success, with lots of positive feedback and more than a third of residents making use of it. Bin collection queries fell correspondingly across all other channels.

Feedback about the streamlined web content was also positive, with a noticeable drop in short visits to reception across all departments. Website usage started to climb, several percentage points week-on-week.

Most crucially the project demonstrated the feasibility and cost-efficiency of digital transformation to senior leaders within the Council.

The project paved the way for the current website, implemented since my departure from the organisation. It maintains the same architecture and user flows that we developed, in a much more modern and extensible format.