When working on a thing as a team, a service, it’s really important to spend time working out what you are going to call it — the thing — and why you’re going to call it that.
It’s important for two reasons. First, it should be what users call it — how they refer to it — and second, it’s what you can call it — what the team and wider team can call it — when discussing our work — and how to make ‘the thing’ better.
There is a whole host of advice out there on naming services. We followed the service manual maintained by the Government Digital Service and content design principles of a fellow government department. We also used the language and structure to describe our service as mentioned in this brilliant post by Kate Tarling.
So, to the first reason. Picking the right name for our service means that users can find our service more easily when they search online. It’s how users find the content and the things they need. It’s also how users know they’ve found what they need when they get there.
Spending time naming our service also means that we all have something to refer to when we’re talking about working on it and improving it. Contextualising our service and turning it into a task-focused description helps us to think about how we can make this task easier and simpler for the user.
Think: what are users actually trying to do when they use our service?
The Government Digital Service Manual advises that good services start with a verb. Using a verb means that the name describes the activity users are trying to complete with our service.
We’ve made a first pass at naming our service, and sub services, at the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We are aware that this service involves a lot of us, and crosses lots of parts of the organisation, and we may not have got it right the first time. As well as sharing this first version in this blog post, we’ve also published it on Github, so that we can track issues or queries and show comments and changes to the naming over time, in the open.
To test this, we want to include the service names in user research, to test things like the language users choose — whether users think in terms of ‘projects’ before they may have engaged with us, or whether ‘heritage’ is as familiar and recognisable to our users as it needs to be. Testing our language in this way helps us to make our service inclusive. If users have to know specific terminology to find and use our services, then we could be excluding people who care about the kind of things we value, but aren’t familiar with the terminology.
Here is our first attempt at naming our service:
Service: Get funding for a heritage project
Sub service: Apply for funding for a heritage project
Offer a simple, accessible way for people to find, evaluate and apply for funding that will support their heritage projects.
Lets people who are involved with a heritage project understand what funding is available for projects like theirs, evaluate available funding based on the criteria that are important to them, and follow a set of clear, simple steps to apply for funding confidently, collaboratively, and quickly.
Sub service: Manage existing funding for a heritage project
Offer a simple, accessible way for people to report on the progress of their project so they can meet the terms of their funding and secure their next payment.
Lets people who are involved with projects which have already been granted funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund provide required information and evidence about their project and the work done to support later rounds of payment and ensure that their project delivers its outcomes.
Sub service: Manage funding applications and grants
Provide National Lottery Heritage Fund staff with a simple, accessible and stable way to manage heritage projects at all stages of the funding cycle, including pre-application advice and engagement, application and evaluation, and due diligence, payments, and monitoring.
Lets staff across the National Lottery Heritage Fund review new applications in a simple, fair and consistent way, as well as supporting long term engagement and relationships with funded projects and organisations to secure better heritage outcomes. Lets staff across the National Lottery Heritage Fund monitor project progress and make payments in a simple, auditable way.