Millions of people use local services every day. But the user experience can be hugely inconsistent across local government. Though there are overwhelming similarities in the types of services councils offer, these services are often designed and implemented differently.
Essex County Council (ECC) wanted to better understand the services they were delivering, to look for opportunities for service improvements, making things quicker, easier and more accessible for citizens while also streamlining the work required to run services.
The plan was to establish what common service patterns existed, in what forms and how they could be used and develop an approach to prototyping new ways of delivering the same types of experiences for different services, and ultimately designing services that provide a consistent and familiar user experience.
Working in a blended team of designers and researchers along with ECC’s service design team, we mapped service patterns and developed the team’s skills in design and pattern development.
In our first phase of work, we started mapping ‘as-is’ common service design patterns, identifying approximately 150 types of transactions that residents have with the council. Services such as ‘registering a birth’, ‘applying for a school place’ and ‘reporting a flood’ include many of the same building blocks: registering, booking or paying for something.
Building on previous thinking around ‘service-orientated’ approaches, we captured information for each service to frame our work. This included the type of service pattern, life events, technology components involved, service steps and the functional area within the council. Using a tool called Airtable, we were then able to create a relational database where we could store and filter information.