How we presented Inland’s user research in the organisation

During spring 2018 we did user research in Inland. We interviewed customers, workers in NGO’s, and arranged three workshops with special groups: students, asylum seekers and HR & relocation specialists in software and gaming industry. The aim of conducting explorative user research was to find opportunities for future experiments, listen to customer stories and together discover development ideas. By doing user research, we were learning about both, Migri’s customers and Migri itself.

The different branches of user research consisted of three workshops (25 participants), ad-hoc interviews (7 persons) and field visits (6 persons) and lastly, video interviews (6 persons). A total of 44 persons took part in the research. The participants represented different customer groups, customers that apply for different residence permits. Additionally, we spoke to workers at NGO’s working with immigrants in Helsinki.

From these interactions, we collected many individual stories and customer ideas for development. We wanted to show the work we had done to our co-workers in the office and at the same time, explore different ways of presenting results and findings. In Inland, we actively present our work to the public and our co-workers through posters, blog posts, and presentations. After some discussions with the team members, I wanted to try two new ways of presenting findings in Migri: informative origamis and a user journey poster.

Turning findings into user journeys

User journey canvas is a well-known tool used in service design, that is used to visualise the steps and interconnections of user experience (see Kimbell 2017, p. 86–89; Stickdorn et al. 2018, p. 50–53; Kumar 2013, p. 182–183). One of our goals was to show our co-workers who were not familiar with user journeys, how it can be used. Our second goal was that the canvas would help to make our findings comparable and visually connect them closely to Migri’s application processes, which vary depending on the permit type.

The user journey posters placed on the corridor in Migri’s Helsinki office.

The challenge was to present many different kinds of experiences and make them comparable: there are as many processes as there are permits, and furthermore, every application is as unique as are people’s lives. In the poster, I wanted to make the different dimensions and levels visible, but still, keep the poster rather simple. When designing the user journey poster and choosing what levels and perspectives to include, I based my approach mainly on Lucy Kimbell’s Service Innovation Handbook (2017, p. 86–89). In the layout I included four levels:

  • What (the steps in the application process)
  • Touchpoints (interactions with people, services and platforms)
  • Issues (problems and challenges) and
  • Ideas (how to improve the situation).

Through these levels, I aimed to make visible the characteristics of each story and experience. The typical steps in the application process include:

  • gathering the information about the application
  • filling the form and collecting attachments
  • submitting the application
  • booking a time for identification in the embassy or Migri service point
  • processing time
  • receiving the decision

Five interviews and two workshops were visualized through these levels. Some of the journeys were based on a user journey sketch made during the interviews and the workshop. Others were based on the interviews and workshop notes from where it was possible to place the findings following the two main steps: application and decision.

Sharing ideas from users in a form of a fortune teller origami

Migri recently moved to an open office space with hot desks. In the new office, there is a lot of common spaces, and I wanted to utilise the tables and create something approachable and nice looking, that people could read and play with when they have their breaks. First, I sketched other three dimensional forms, but as we discussed with the team, the idea of the origami took off. I concentrated on experimenting with the form of the fortune-teller origami.

Origamis on the common space tables in Migri’s Helsinki office.

In the origami, I included development ideas and quotes from users and additionally, shared shortly what we had been doing in the user research project. As I went through the user research data, I thought about what kind of information would work in the playful form and would best fit the situations in which people will be reading them: during their coffee or lunch breaks, or on their way to a meeting. Which information can be described shortly, but entirely, on the origami?

Ideas and quotes seemed to fit this purpose: the ideas were easy to describe in short sentences, and the quotes were connected to the idea or the theme the idea was tackling. The customers’ ideas were placed on the top, and the quotes were placed inside, for people to discover. The ideas also addressed parts for example about the challenges customers had faced. The quotes and stories about challenges were often complex and had many levels from the customer and Migri point of view, and with limited space, it is hard to show the manysidedness of each situation.

For example, these ideas from the customers were included in the origami:

  • Interactive checklist of requirements for the customer and employer
  • Using videos and animations on the website to help customers to understand the application process
  • Visualising the application process and showing the steps or providing a map of the process

The scope of the themes in the quotes varied, from smaller details to broader descriptions, and included both positive feedback and stories of challenges customers had experienced:

“ I love it (E-service website) very much! It’s quite understandable and intuitive! Also, I like the adorable emoji when there is a 404 error page, or your application has been made.”
“At least if it (EnterFinland) shows in what stage my application is or, how many applicants are ahead of me and are waiting for the decision, then I can relax a bit (because I know my place in the line)”

Conclusion

Recently I had short pre-organised discussions in the office to find out how the origamis and poster were received by our co-workers, and what they thought about them. When I talked with six Migri employees, they thanked the different forms and were happy to see different ways of sharing results and information in the office. They described that even though the origami was very nice looking, they found the form bit hard to grasp at once and felt that there was too much information. As an improvement, it was mentioned that there could have been more communication in other internal channels about the origami and the user journey poster. When I asked about what they thought about the user journey canvas, it was seen as understandable and easy to follow. To conclude, based on the small sample and observations from the office, the visualisations were received well, but I could have improved the communication around the origamis and posters.

Personally, the process of creating these presentations was a nice creative task to do. For me as a service design intern working on the poster and origami offered an opportunity to examine user journeys and user maps in more detail. For me, it was a good time to practice how to deal with a big amount of data and how to present the work to others in Migri who are not familiar with user research.

User research done was useful to prioritise themes that Inland had deprioritised before and to concentrate on the issues that are relevant for our customers. It is a way to redirect our work with a user-centred perspective. When examining the user research performed, it is clear that many findings are obvious and already well-known challenges for some of our units. This is why, in the future, we aim to conduct user research together with other teams in Migri, instead of being a separate endeavour conducted independently. We, in Inland, believe that we needed to do this first step independently in order to embrace the complexity of the challenges our clients are dealing with. Later on, we can focus on specific applications, together with other workers in the substance units. Looking forward to this collaboration!

Text: Anna Kokki

Contributor: Mariana Salgado & Suse Miessner

References:

Kimbell Lucy (2015) Service Innovation Handbook. Action-oriented Creative Thinking Toolkit for Service Organizations. Bis Publishers.

Kumar Vijay (2013) 101 Design Methods. A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Stickdorn Marc, Lawrence Adam, Hormess Markus, Schneider Jacob (ed) (2018) This Is Service Design Doing. O’Reilly Media, Inc.