The University of Edinburgh User Experience (pilot) Service
My first experience in UK's public sector as a User Experience Consultant
Work done during this project:
- UX Consulting: As-is user experience consultation analysis.
- UX Consulting: Planning and facilitation of collaborative sessions for definition, weighting and prioritisation of UX-quality-related business risks.
- UX Consulting: Mentorship and training for members on Agile, Lean UX methods and evidenced-based decision making models.
- IA: User-centred information architecture generation: hybrid, delphi card sorting sessions with users.
- IA: User-centred information architecture validation: tree-test experiment design, execution and analysis of results.
- IXD: Mobile-first, user-centred collaborative interaction design sessions faciliation for design+tech team.
- Design Research: Protocol definition and test design for the validation of an early prototype.
The design, management, development, maintenance and support services for all regarding corporate systems and information management of The University of Edinburgh is provided by an internal organisation called Information Services (IS). IS owns a diverse list of services, systems and infrastructure. From student-facing services, like The University of Edinburgh Library building and all the digital learning tools used by them, to the internal operations and management related digital services and support for all the internal organisations in the University.
IS also provides support regarding research management, digital skills and digital transformation consultancy and technology deployment to different internal academic and operational areas of the University.
In a nutshell, if you study or work in the University, it doesn't matter if you need to set up a new email account, get a book, access to a big-data research platform or to interconect and validate several business areas information to develop a new data-driven business strategy, you might want to ask IS for some help.
In the context of an institution with 500 years of history, the 20-something year old concepts of User Experience and User-centred Design might sound something very, very fresh, maybe too fresh sometimes. Historically focused on the technical deployment with a by-demand assistance and by-business-requirement approach, Information Services started to explore how to provide a better experience to their end users very recently. A User Experience Service pilot was created within IS in the context of that change of mindset.
I was hired as a UX Consultant for that pilot service's team with the mission of delivering enough internal impact in a brief period of time to show the potential value of a larger scale UX Service and the investment value of moving towards a more user-centred approach.
I engaged with several teams with the mission of showing them a different approach and philosophy about delivering services to internal and external users. Each case and team was totally different to the others, presenting different goals and problems, but also different maturity levels regarding service delivery, customer experience and user-centred design awareness/adoption. Moving from one team to the other in the same day demanded me to wear completely different hats. Including the Information Architect hat, the change manager one and the user's advocate, the product owner, the business strategists, the product designer, the user researcher, the UX coach, etc.
After 6 months, these were the key achievements of the teams I worked for:
- Improved the navigation for MyEd (the University's students and staff portal, receiving hundreds of thousands of logins per week) by changing to a user-centred model (including a user-emerged taxonomy, also tested by users).
- Instituted agile and lean ways of working regarding user research, evidence-based business decision making, service prototyping and delivery processes.
- Several teams engaged for a first time on user research and user-centred design processes, providing strategic service delivery consultancy based on user insight and needs.
- Coached and trained other team members on UX research and service design methodologies and ways of work.
- Delivered several strategic research pieces paving the way for a more valuable service delivery for client teams including the Business Intelligence and Management of Information Service, the Research Management Service and The MyEd Service. Marking in some cases potential projects to be created and swaying in others the current projects' scope with new goals.
- Last but not least, I managed to embed a more user-centred way of work for those teams and the senior management in contact with the pilot. To change the way they prioritise their service backlogs, the way they see user engagement during the design and developing process and how they see the process itself.