As with every good alpha, we’ve been spending time discovering our main user needs for customers and stakeholders – working with them to explore what HM Land Registry services will look like in future.

I’m Helen Cassidy, a Researcher at HM Land Registry. I’m part of the alpha team looking at developing our new digital services through the LR Connect programme. At the beginning of the alpha project, I coordinated a workshop with the HM Land Registry Customer and Market Insight team. We looked at user needs identified over many years of researching our customer base and those established during the proof-of-concept.

This helped us to shape the user stories for the initial sprints and to design a research plan to support the alpha, with the ambition that each sprint would focus on creating and developing prototypes to test with our users.

User needs

Card sorting

My priority as a Researcher is to get to the heart of what HM Land Registry users need from new digital services and our initial aim was to challenge the norm. The starting point was to explore the register in its current format and to break it down into its component parts. One of the research methods we used was to conduct a card sort with our business users. Each card displayed a piece of the register, for example, a proprietor name, charge or easement. This exercise involved the user listing the cards in the priority in which they use/need the information.

These findings helped us to design a prototype of the register view, displaying how our users would like to see the register entries displayed and in what order.

card sorting

Face-to-face interviews

We‘ve conducted 26 face to face interviews with our business users so far. This sample of respondents, although relatively small, was made up of small, medium and volume customers as well as lenders and a utility company, ensuring a good mix of business types and geographical areas were covered. During these interviews, we got to further understand the specific needs of these types of business users, which helped us to feed back into the designers and developers to change the prototypes and even create new ones.

Continual analysis

Wall space is at a premium within the alpha project and we’ve taken quite a bit of it to display our user findings! Our continued analysis is shown in our affinity diagram which is now expanding beyond the wall and onto the cabinets below…

User research analysis

We also have a space on another wall displaying user quotes and finding highlights. As one of the User Researchers, I’ve also ensured I’ve physically attended as many team planning sessions as possible and engaged in ongoing team discussions, constantly informing the project about what our users are saying.

User research wall

Assisted digital

I ran a workshop with some of the alpha team and members of HM Land Registry’s Diversity Group to help us understand the needs of those users who may struggle with a digital offering. This group has worked with the Customer and Market Insight Team to produce assisted digital personas, which have helped inform the alpha on all things ‘Assisted Digital’.

It’s our aim now to test these findings with our users – we’ve already camped out at HM Land Registry Croydon office to interview the users of our appointment service. This face to face research has been invaluable in testing what our users think of our current services and what we’re proposing. One respondent said:

“It’s good to see all the information about my property on one page”

We’re learning valuable things about why our users have to come into an HM Land Registry Office. One user gave the following reason:

“We wanted to do our own transfer but don’t live in the UK, so we’ve had to fly over to prove our identities”

Research with citizen users

Our other intention is to test the register view prototype with members of the public in a research lab environment, and to continue to conduct as many face-to-face interviews as we can with our business users – so watch this space…

For more information on alpha user research, or to get in touch please email or tweet #LRConnect @HMLandRegistry.

Helen Cassidy
By Helen Cassidy,
Researcher at HM Land Registry