A service that’s simple, natural and easily understood by the user
What is a service?
A service is a facility the government provides to help the user achieve an outcome with minimal effort. The government is responsible for delivering a well maintained service in a user centered way.
A service is available both through online and offline channels. It goes beyond the interaction; it’s the content, technology, people, policies, materials, tools, and processes too. It helps the user achieve an outcome from beginning to end.
What is a good government service?
A good government service allows the user to easily achieve an outcome without them needing to know about government procedures and processes.
Therefore, you need to understand those processes and procedures for the user. You should collaborate with other government departments and private sector stakeholders when needed.
What this means:
- from beginning to end – think about every single thing a user needs to do, including anything done by a supplier external to government
- from front to back – this means both the service that users see and the internal processes, software and policies behind it
- across every channel – phone, post and face to face as well as digital
Government services differ in size, scope and who their users are. But there are certain characteristics that all good services share.
The service is easy to find
Choose a good and simple name for the service.
It should be intuitive to search for, and use common everyday words because most people won’t know exactly how to reach their goal.
A user can do what they need to do in seamless journey, from beginning to end
A good service enables a user to complete their task as seamlessly as possible.
It takes into consideration everything from the moment a user thinks about doing a task to the moment they have completed it.
It also helps with any further steps a user could need to take – or support they might need afterwards.
The fewer steps, the better
Allow the user to complete their goal in the smallest number of steps possible without cramming a lot of information in one screen.
Information should only be provided once by the user, and avoid asking for data that a backend system already has.
There are no dead ends
Every user needs to be led to a clear outcome, even if they are not eligible for the service itself.
If somebody’s needs are outside the scope of the service, the service should clearly direct them to what to do next.
No user should be left stranded within a service without knowing how to continue.
It’s easy to get human assistance
The vast majority of the users should be able to complete their tasks in a straightforward manner but there will always be exceptions.
A good service cares for the needs of those exceptions, by providing an easy way to communicate with a human being, if they get stuck at a technical issue or are unable to provide a particular piece of evidence.
There should be an offline support system by phone or email or face to face.
Internal structures are not shown to users
A good service does not unnecessarily expose a user to internal structures behind it. Even if the service has to work across different government departments.
The purpose and the criteria of the service are clear
The user should know what the service offers it and if they are eligible before starting using it.
All the criteria and evidence required should be clear from the beginning as well as what the outcome should be.
The user should know:
- What evidence are needed and how to obtain them
- How much it will cost
- How long it will take to be completed
- A reference number and the status of their application
- What the end result would be
The service is consistent
The service should look and feel like one service to users regardless if different government departments and backend systems are involved.
Visual styles, interaction patterns and the language in the service should be consistent along the service itself and along other government services.
The service works in a familiar way
People expect services to work in a certain way based on what they’ve seen or used before.
A good service uses familiar design styles and conventions, to keep it consistent with other government services, to help people use it easily.
Use interaction patterns on how to ask users for commonly-needed information like:
- gender or sex
- ID card numbers
Patterns on how to help users do things like:
- confirm an email address
- create a username
- create an account
- Select from dropdown lists
- Upload a document
and patterns for common page types like:
- confirmation pages
- question pages
- start pages
Everyone can use and understand the service
People have different needs at different times and in different circumstances. A good service is inclusive so that everyone who needs to can use it as easily as possible. You must consider the barriers different groups of users might face when trying to use the service, and how to address them.
Look out for places where users might be excluded – like insisting people have to make contact in one particular way or accepting only specific documents as evidence.
A good service also uses the same language as its users to make things easy for anyone to read and understand. Use short and direct sentences and be approachable and helpful.
Treat User’s information with care and respect
A good service does not treat users with unnecessary suspicion or scrutiny. Services are built to help and respect the user and protect their personal data.