Start with people's needs. Begin projects by conducting research with real people to understand who they are, what they need, and how they behave. Design programs and services around those needs, continuously test with users, and refine policy and processes accordingly.
Government programs and services should meet the needs of people who use them. In the 21st century, this means integrating user centered design practices into the work of government.
Governments that start with user needs make it a priority in any project to conduct research with residents to inform a better picture of who they are, what they need, and how they behave. By starting with an understanding of who they are serving, government is better able to provide effective and accessible access to public services and information that’s tailored to resident’s needs, comprehension, and literacy.
When working with local governments, Code for America conducts user research in order to understand needs, generate project ideas, and test hypotheses at all stages of development from sketch through prototype to production code.
Practice User Centered Design
We're publishing a set of guides, tools and resources for governments that want to start practicing user centered design.
- User Centered Design Guide: Use this guide if you are just getting started with a user centered approach to solving problems, designing services or products.
- User Research Policy Toolkit: This guide will help you develop policy that makes it easier to implement user centered principles.
- Resident Survey Guide: Use this guide from our Digital Front Door program if you are planning to reach out to your greater community to solicit their feedback.
- 2014 Summit Breakout: Civic Design: User Research Methods for Creating Better Citizen Experiences
- 2014 Summit Video: Designing For and With People: A User Centered Approach to City Websites: Jay Anderson
- 2013 Summit Video: Redesigning Government, how everyone is a designer: Dana Chisnell
- Read: Beyond Transparency, Data and Design in Innovative Citizen Experiences: In our Publication 'Beyond Transparency' Cyd Harrell discusses how to use data and design processes to improve the citizen experience with city services.
- Read: Chicago Smart Collaborative Cut Group Handbook: The Smart Chicago Collaborative developed this book to share their experiences launching and running a civic user testing group.
- Read: An Introduction to User Research Techniques: The Government Digital Service in the UK compiled lessons of user research into this toolkit.
- Read: Eight Strategies of user research that work for Gov.uk: The Government Digital Service in the UK shares eight strategies of user research that worked for them.
- Watch: How to create an inter-departmental approach to changing the way government does business. The City of Oakland has created a Civic Design Lab to foster user centered approaches to redesigning government.