Our new property information service has been in private beta for a few months now. It will help people find the information they need – it will give you a Title Summary showing the Title number, tenure, property description, proprietors name and address, price paid and lenders details.
Over the past few months we have released millions of more Titles [property details] to the service, improved the design, changed the language from ‘legalese’ into plain English, translated information into Welsh and undertaken more user research than we have completed on any previous digital service.
Originally we limited the number of private beta users to 30 as the service was using live data. By limiting the number it helped to mitigate any risks to an individual as well as to us (about accessing this data). As a team we were also managing each user account so having a larger number of users would have meant more time dealing with account management problems (eg if a user lost their password we would have to reset this ourselves), rather than focussing our energy and time on building a new service.
So limiting the number of users in the private beta made sense. We have learnt a huge amount during this phase but we are now at a stage where we need to open the service up to more users. Public beta is our next step, where we can give access to any users who have an account (or users who want to create an account) on our existing Find a property service. We have around 350k users – so a big leap from the current 30 using our service.
From all the user research we have done, we understand the high-level user needs of our service. We also need to understand the lower level needs eg how many users will actually search for a property using an address or title number rather than postcode? Do users want 10 or 25 results on a page? How many users will click on the help text (which we have changed and re-worded multiple times during private beta)?
Increasing the number of users and moving into public beta will take us into the next stage of learning and understanding of the user need – and help us to continue to develop our service. It is time to move the service into the ‘real world’ and let our ‘little baby take its first steps’. I’ll keep you posted on how we get on.