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From Rapid Start to Incubation. This is chemistry lab time.

After a really busy few days of creating ideas around “Unlocking digital democracy for all”, selecting (democratically) Jargon Buster – providing definitions to complicated words and phrases on our website – and Interact – supporting the public in connecting them to take some action with Parliament, and building some initial tests. If you want to read or remind yourself of the Rapid Start, please read my recent post.

Last week, we re-grouped five of our PDS team (Rebecca, Noel, Ganesh, Lino and Jocelyn), a couple of business representatives (Ed and Holly) and our friends from fluxx, again basing ourselves in their offices. The idea behind an incubator is that you can build small pieces of the jigsaw, test their impact and learn before committing to a full development, all within a controlled environment.

We established an agile way of working including our communication channels: Slack (for messaging), Trello (for task management) and daily stand-ups for letting everyone know what they’re doing today, and if they need any help. Our key daily question though in the Incubator is: what did I learn yesterday?

We set out to identify all the unknowns against Jargon Buster and Interact, and started to craft what experiments could be built to answer these.

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The team have focused on getting things done to ensure that we can have our first experiments live by the end of our first week. We had a show and tell on Friday, which had our meeting room crammed to the rafters.  It’s great to have so much interest.


We are now in day 9, a few days after some experiments went live; what have we learnt:


  1. We are technically able to create a Definitions feature for the web site, which defines certain words when you hover over them. If we ask people on Twitter to look at a prototype page with this feature then plenty do, and 58% say it would be very useful if rolled out across the site.
  2. We need a clear aim for our ‘Interact’ theme, and right now that should be to get people to contact an MP, if they have not done so in the last 5 years. This could change any time – we’re always learning.
  3. We have a hypothesis that people will be more likely to contact their MP if prompted to do so while thinking about an issue they care about. It turns out you can’t place Facebook adverts so they appear next to discussions about a particular issue.
  4. We are technically able to place a call to action next to news stories on our web site prompting people to write to their MP. But even if you show it to 1,600 people no one clicks on it. This is a beautifully clear result from an experiment, and we now need to double-check it by trying different designs to confirm it wasn’t just a problem with that.

Take Action

We are putting more experiments live almost daily now. Learning plenty to help shape and deliver Jargon Buster and Interact. What will we learn next?

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