Last week a team of our researchers asked passers-by in the Croydon library about their knowledge and use of government services. Working on a prototype for new digital services, they were aiming to “get feedback from people who have never heard of HM Land Registry” said John Beale, a user researcher.

It was the first time that our researchers used a library for their investigation. They worked under a banner “Help us make government better”, not under HM Land Registry branding. Andy Porter, another researcher, explained what they were looking for. “We don’t want to tell people we’re from HM Land Registry. We want to find out why they’re in the library, if they’ve used government services, if they would use the services online and if so, would they do it in the library?” He added: “We want to uncover any barriers people have to accessing government services online”.

Our researchers in the Croydon library

Our researchers, Roger Wilkinson and David Ware, in the Croydon library

The interviews were mixed

“Wow, what a busy library, so many types of people here today – it’s really thriving”. Lots of people we interviewed don’t have online access at home. We call these “assisted digital users” – they need help accessing online services. The ease of access to digital services is an important part of the Government service assessment for new government services.

We’ve also learnt some unexpected things. For example, people said, “I’m in a public place. Will people be able to see my private information?”, “To get property information I would contact citizen advice bureau or go to the council” and “Will my payment be safe using a library internet service?”.

We need to consider the effects of these findings. Feedback from the users will help create a new version of the new digital service prototype. The team would show a paper version of the web page, at the end of the conversation, and ask more questions relating to property.

Next step

With all the responses, our research team will compare the public feedback. They’ll communicate it back to the rest of the Digital Product teams developing the new digital services. These teams will then design better prototypes and will come up with new questions. Our user researchers will test the new version with people the following week. This cycle continues.

We all learned so much to improve next time we go out. Simple things, like getting another pop-up sign, and big, friendly, name badges. Often little things make all the difference.

Stephanie Hill
By Stephanie Hill,
Web content manager at HM Land Registry