Pest control ready for user testing

Last Thursday the Verify team at the Government Digital Service (GDS) held a user research training workshop in London. I took on Storm Doris and the usual train mayhem to get there, and I am so pleased I did. The skills and tools I learnt will be invaluable for the work we’re doing at Digital First.

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Prioritising questions at the Verify user research workshop.

Already this Wednesday, we’ll get to try out some of them when we test our new web pages for pest control. Annie, Luke (our newest team member) and I will be sitting by the entrance at Jubilee Library between 2 pm and 5 pm, laptop and tablet at the ready. Our new online booking form especially will be put through the wringer. Annie and the web development team have been working tirelessly on it for the past month, making sure everything works as it should.

Anyone is welcome to stop by and give us feedback – no advanced computer skills needed. We would like the content we create for the new website to be accessible to everyone.

Please come and see us if you have 15 minutes to spare. We can offer a slice of rodent-themed cake for those who participate.

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Annie and Luke, two of the faces you’ll see at our library stand.

First day of development

We have started developing a new tool for pest control. We showed our web developers the list of work we need to complete, which we have written as user stories. This is a way of keeping the customer at the centre of our work when setting out requirements. An example of a user story would be:

“As a resident needing help with pests,

I need to be able to book an appointment at a time that suits me,

so I can get rid of the rat that eats all the Doritos.”

The team then divided into pairs to build different sections of work addressing these user stories. We tried to build an initial form for customers to request help with pests, to book an appointment and to be able to pay.

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The team divided into pairs.

We encountered stumbling blocks, of course, but we were expecting that on day one of development. Some documentation wasn’t clear, and some connectivity didn’t quite work between databases. On Agile projects like ours, there is a role called scrum master who supports the product manager and development team by taking any problems away and finding solutions. Gary Duckworth is our scrum master and is doing an amazing job. I think he must be hiding some sort of time travelling ability. There is no other explanation for how problems get solved so quickly!

The combination of experienced software developers and excellent scrum-mastery has meant we also had some success. There was an upbeat air to the room and a lot of clever technical conversation going on around me.

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Admiring our results at the end of a very promising first day.