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Getting to know you (and each other)

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Community, Curiosity, Start with user needs, User research

The Digital Development tribe in PDS has rapidly expanded, and there are a lot of new faces. Feedback from our last away day showed that staff wanted to get to know colleagues. With this purpose in mind we decided to get everyone together to do some user research.

Different questions, different techniques

The Digital Development Directorate at the away day
The Digital Development Directorate at the away day

After a brief introduction from Data Wizard Dan Barrett, we split up into teams to explore three parts of Parliament's work:

  • committees
  • visiting Parliament
  • legislation

We all had a different question to answer in teams of people from all over the directorate. Each team had its own unique approach and no team used the same method. It was a sunny day so my group opted to go outside and do some guerrilla user research.

One of the teams taking a break from user research
One of the teams taking a break from user research

In three hours, we tried to find out “What committee information do people feel is important?”. It wasn’t perfect, and we might have been a little less engaging than our actual user research team.

We asked 29 people three questions:

  • do you know what the role of a committee is?
  • what information is most important about a committee?
  • why is that important to you?

By moving around Westminster, we spoke to people familiar with committees and people who just wanted to go back to lying in the sun. We used a mass of Post-its paired with some Google Analytics data to pull together our findings.

If in doubt, call your mum

One of the groups discussing their findings
One of the groups discussing their findings

When we all came back to the office, each team gave a two minute presentation on what we learned and how we did it. Some teams used analytics data, others went out and asked questions. One team rang their mums. It proved how useful user research is and why we need to speak to people outside of London (the mums are all over the country).

We learned a lot in three hours with imperfect research and colleagues who’d never worked together before. We can’t guarantee all the research will feed into the new website for Parliament, but it put what we’re working towards into perspective. And reinforced the user needs we’re trying to meet.

For me, the best outcome of the day was knowing someone from every part of the directorate. Having a single “in” makes everyone more approachable. PDS aims to be a caring and considerate workplace, but not everyone is confident enough to walk up to strangers and introduce themselves. New connections might not always know the answer, but they can introduce you to the person who does.

Interested in working at PDS? Take a look at our current vacancies

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