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GDS builds user research panel for GOV.UK



Team is recruiting volunteers and using CRM platform for solution to be reused within government

The team behind central government’s website is putting together a panel of volunteer users as part of its developmental research plans.

It is aiming to launch a simple version of the panel by the end of July and develop it further using agile methodology, learning what works and what does not as it goes along.

The plan has been outlined by Kate Towsey, a user researcher and delivery manager in the Government Digital Service, in a blog that says the relevant contracts have been signed to build a database of volunteers.

The recruitment process is using some of the website’s pages, feedback forms and social media, and the sign-up will include a double opt-in.

Details will be fed into a SugarCRM platform, which include demographic information on the volunteers and whether they are general users or have been looking at specific pages of GOV.UK. Towsey says this makes it possible to direct questions at specific groups, and is more efficient than using spreadsheets and a survey tool such as SurveyMonkey.

It will be hosted on secure data servers in the UK, and members of the panel have to meet Cabinet Office information security standards.

GDS will own the intellectual property for the panel and any customisations, and has drawn up the contract to make the solution available under licence to other government departments. It hopes that other government user research teams will be able to make use of it by the end of the year.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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