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Showing posts from July, 2014

What is digital?

Yesterday I joined in a discussion on Twitter about "what is digital" and then read the piece that provoked it. Usually you'd do this the other way round, but conversations online don't always follow a linear pattern. That's my excuse anyway and I'm sticking to it.

The piece was called Defining Digital by Matt Jukes.

It's an excellent summary of the problems one faces when trying to define what "digital" actually means. It got me thinking about how I define it and I was with Matt all the way to his statement:

Digital is a belief in the ability of the internet to transform…whether that be society, businesses, education, government or whatever…and the understanding of how that might be achieved.
For me, digital doesn't mean online or relating to the internet. If you're using digital to mean online, just say online. Matt's research shows that it's a far more prevalent term which means users stand a greater chance of understanding…

Does "register to vote" show why a Local GDS wouldn't work?

Register to vote is a new digital service created by the Government Digital Service and is available on GOV.UK.

All you need is your National Insurance Number and it takes about 5 minutes to start the voter registration process.

Satisfaction with GOV.UK users is high, around 95%, and I can say from experience that I found it quick and easy to use, myself.

There are problems with the process once you leave GOV.UK however, in fact the first warning signs are as you finish the GOV.UK part of the process. "contact your local electoral registration office" says the completion message (pictured above), but there's hundreds of them. Given the address of the user is known, wouldn't it be better to do the hard work to make it simple by adding a link to the appropriate council?

Perhaps I'm being unfair, but to me this says to users, "we've done our bit, you're not our problem any more".

User experience once the process is passed to a local government is …

Have you heard of a hack day hangout?

There's no substitute for face to face communication but sometimes it's just not possible. Take UK GovCamp this year for example. I know for a fact there were local government officers who wanted to attend but couldn't afford to pay for travel themselves, nor could they get their organisation to fund it.

If you're wondering why there was less local government representation at UK GovCamp 14, this may be the answer and as an aside, anyone proposing a centralised local government digital service would need to factor in the travel of talking to multiple service teams at 400 councils across the country, but that's another topic.

After the LocalGov Digital Makers Hack Day I talked about how hack days are essential for better digital services, and LocalGov Digital are working to help create formal structures so collaboration can occur where political priorities and local user needs align. Given that financial constrains are limiting some from attending discover or hac…