Research for User Researchers

[The role has been slightly tweaked and is now called User Experience Lead but it available again – the vast majority of this post is still valid]

There are still a few days to apply for the two User Researcher UX Lead job with me at ONS and so I thought I would say a little about what the work might entail and why I believe it is interesting and important.

The role will be embedded in one of two agile development teams – both committed to a ‘user first’ approach. My project is the redevelopment of the ONS corporate website including everything from the publishing platform to data manipulation and visualisation tools on the front-end. The other is a project to radically rethink how ONS does surveys – a huge part of our activity – moving it to a truly ‘digital by default’ approach. This project includes everything from identity assurance, to ‘nudge’ thinking as well as a lot of form design. It is crucial work to the future of the organisation.

Everybody involved in these projects is committed to following the approach advocated by GDS. Service Managers are being trained alongside those from the GDS exemplar projects and ONS work voluntarily goes through the GDS Service Assessment process to reassure everybody involved that the right processes are followed.

We have built our own user lab on the premises in Newport and also are able to book the facilities at GDS HQ in Holborn. The ONS users are a passionate community who are always happy to share their opinions and experiences. Between this large community and a relationship with a participant recruitment company getting people in to provide feedback is not a problem. Finding time for everybody who wants their say is more difficult.

Speaking for my project we practice what I have heard called ‘user driven development’ and so the User Researcher has a vital role. We undertake formal lab based research at the end of every sprint and expect supplementary work to be going on all the time. Our user stories are genuinely directly based on our research and so the Researcher has enormous influence alongside the Product Lead (i.e. me!). The team develops and deploys at pace so there are really quick feedback loops and you can really see the difference you are making.

The work of the ONS is high profile and important to the ensure an informed debate based on data rather than anecdote. Not to mention the influence the statistics have on the nations economy and political policy. Anybody involved in this work has an opportunity to make a real difference.

Now the job is in Newport but it is commutable from Cardiff and Bristol (despite my moaning I have done it everyday for two years) and the organisation is really embracing the digital agenda so it is an exciting time to be involved.

So if you have ever been inspired by the work of GDS but don’t fancy moving to London I really want you to take a look at the job description and take some time this weekend to apply!

If you have any questions feel free to email me via the form on the site, leave a comment or tweet me. Like they say over on Reddit – Ask Me Anything*

*within reason🙂

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