Scissor, paper and a rock solid answer

What do we do when we’ve got a bunch of ideas and want to find out if they work? We test them. In ways that work and connect for the people who use the services.

Recently at Newham we have been working with the Homelessness Prevention Centre Team, which includes office staff, Homelessness officers and Homelessness Prevention Assistants to begin designing the best service design solution for them.

End user needs (or customers) are in yellow and the needs of the officers are in pink

What did we do?

We generated some ideas around what the needs of the people who are at risk of being homeless are and also the officers who carry out interviews for potentially homeless people. The above pictures are a result of our brainstorming session. 

Then we thought about how we can combine these by creating a common experience for both.

We decided the best way to do this would be to re-enact the journey of the current service as well as with some of the ideas we thought could work for the future. Where the officers became ‘actors’ in the scenes, interacting with the props and sets. This is called experience testing.

Homelessness Prevention Centre being drawn

We drew the scene, in the Homelessness Centre as it exists currently. In order to personalise the testing we asked officers to be drawn into the scenes. This way we could physically work the officers through their potential future service and listened, observed and discussed. In this way they could give us honest feedback about how the service flowed and importantly, how it felt to go through it.

Officers came in pairs, which instigated a discussion and we could observe and understand their feedback which we have fed back into the next round of testing.

It worked because;

  • we could test our ideas and get feedback quickly
  • we could test assumptions about the way the service could run
  • we could identify how service improvements could address the users of the service needs’

What we found:

  • that the online solution is as important as the offline solution
  • that we need to empower users of the service to self-serve. We will be testing the use of a digital kiosk.

Why did this type of user research work?

  • it was more engaging to participants than interviewing them and because it was playful
  • because we used real scenarios and props people could imagine how the future could look like and give us more honest feedback
  • flexibility and change of the materials used meant during the testing meant we could flip components around

At Newham, we are working hard to find different, flexible and creative ways to engage with our customers and create the best possible rock solid solutions.

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