SME Member Spotlight | Mace & Menter

  • techUK techUK
    Monday18May 2020
    Opinions

    techUK caught up with Sam Menter, Director, Mace & Menter, who explained the company's user centred approach and the importance of involving citizens in the...

WHO ARE MACE & MENTER?

We are a team of user researchers, UX and service design specialists working with government and technology companies to improve the way people experience services.

Through research-led discoveries we uncover problems worth solving and use the evidence we gather as a foundation for interaction and service design work.

We focus 100% on research and design which means we regularly partner with in-house development teams or technology suppliers to help design the right system in a way that is easy and efficient for people to use.

We’ve just redesigned a cyber collaboration platform for DCMS, we’ve worked on an information sharing service for Cabinet Office, we ran extensive user research to help DVSA with the new MOT system and we’ve been helping Policy Lab with user research in job centres across the UK. 

We also work with Scope, who we’ve been helping co-create a new employment service and run an extensive content research programme.

 

WHY IS USER CENTRED DESIGN IMPORTANT IN PUBLIC SECTOR?

User centred design is a research-led process that involves users throughout the design of a service or system.

There are so many ways a service can unintentionally be made hard to use, confusing or ineffective for the people who need to access it that the chances of getting it right without involving users in the design process are slim to zero. 

When you consider the number of people accessing public services, you realise that even a small change to the way something works or is communicated, based on user insight, can make a service significantly more usable and useful for hundreds of thousands of people.

Once you realise that user-centred design can mean the difference between people using or abandoning a service, you realise just how essential this approach is. 

 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF WORKING IN THIS WAY?

By involving users in the discovery process and throughout the design process we make sure the service is solving the right problems for the organisation and the users. Clear insight into user needs makes it possible to prioritise features and functionality so that budgets can be used effectively. We eliminate the risk of developing complex and expensive functionality that has little value to the users.

When we worked with DCMS and Tech UK on the Cyber Exchange, clear insight into user needs enabled us to cut features and hone in on the core value the service offered.

Public services need to work for everyone and testing designs with people with low digital skills or accessibility needs, means we can be confident that we are designing services that do this. User centred design means we think about all users, not just people who are confident with technology and have the latest kit.

 

HOW CAN YOU DO USER-CENTRED WORK ON LEGACY SYSTEMS?

Legacy systems are often the starting point for our work and we love working on them because there can be so much opportunity to improve things.

Understanding how people are using the system in its current state, identifying pain points and opportunities and exploring hacks people have put in place to make the system work for them all contribute to understanding the problem that needs to be solved.

Armed with a clear understanding of:

  • The needs of the people using the system
  • The needs of the organisation running the system
  • How well the system is meeting these needs

One can make strategic decisions around whether to re-platform, add functionality or just tweak what’s there to make the system work more efficiently. Our work often feeds into business cases for investment in technology and teams. Sometimes it becomes clear that although the technology is a bit old and clunky, it’s doing exactly what it needs to and the investment needs to be in people rather than technology.

 

If you’d like to know more about our work in service design and user research, I’m very happy to talk: sam@macementer.com

Make sure you also visit the Mace & Menter website: https://macementer.com/

  • Harri Turnbull

    Harri Turnbull

    Communications Manager
    T 020 7331 2011

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