Week #78 at the Digital Service: Notes for 23–27 October 2023

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A tablet computer with a website of a justice service questionaire open, showing questions in German language

Increasing our efforts and extending our capability in content design was one of the 5 objectives for 2023 I set for the design discipline at the end of last year.

We are taking steps and are doing this in various ways:

  • Capability: we are about to open a first-ever senior content designer role in our justice service teams
  • Awareness: we are planning an NExT UCD community event on plain language and clear government services
  • Process: we are improving the ways we do content reviews with subject matter experts and legal colleagues
  • Visibility: we are preparing a blog post about how we are creating service content that works well for users

All of these efforts are intertwined and still just a beginning. We’ve come some way with our outputs, which were recognised by users of various services and by the advisory council of the government’s digital strategy last week. However, our capabilities, structures, and processes are underdeveloped.

This year, we have made good progress in establishing user research as a discipline. Now, we intensify our efforts in content design. Bringing the first dedicated content designer in will be crucial for those efforts.

In contrast to the UK and its public sector specifically, content design as a discipline is still in its infancy in Berlin. That is at least my perception. There are a few people with content design as their job title in local e-commerce and fintech businesses, but it’s niche. There aren’t many UX writers, either. I cannot piece it together yet, but I will conduct more research when our role opens.

Plotting the rest of 2023

Recognising there are about 6 working weeks in 2023 left, I started to make a list of what’s ahead and what I still need or want to get done.

In chronological order, these are the upcoming activities:

These are more things than I remembered. So, I’m mainly noting these here to gain clarity for myself. And not to lose track of anything. Quite a few of these events are also open to the public, so I’m happy for people to join them.

When it comes to writing, there are still at least 3 pieces I want to finish:

  • A blog post about our delivery discipline setup at Digital Service
  • A blog post about designing services while building products
  • An article about the long slog of public service design

The latter will be a written version of our conference talk.

There are also 2 more topics I believe we should address in internal lunch and learn sessions:

  • Transforming services end-to-end – and how every small change in an API, replacement of a legacy IT system, or improvement to backend processes can make a valuable contribution to an improved user experience
  • Measuring progress – how we track the right performance indicators and make the case for our type of transformation work at scale

In the past week, Kara, Viktoria and I have been making some progress on the international 24-hour conference, which will keep us busy as an evening side project for the coming weeks. We have a robust plan of who we want to hear from and how the time zones match to the regions to have a true continuous 24-hour experience. So far, we have received about 100 sign-ups. And quite a few people are interested in sharing their work.

What’s next

According to that little list above, the coming week is calmer. I will need the time to prepare the content for all the forthcoming activities.

While recovering from my 3rd round of COVID, I hope to be able to join Charlotte’s TEDx talk in Potsdam on Thursday. The event has a strong line-up – primarily women – covering grief, decision-making, urban climate action, mental health, and poverty.