We have recently helped the GDS (part of UK Government Cabinet Office) plan and prototype a dashboarding system for their departmental data. Working with Matt Biddulph, we spent a month at their offices pathfinding with live data and researching the needs and social flows of the users.
There is a full write up on the GDS blog of our recent work with them and I have added a few more reflections and some more examples below too.
We were asked to create a tool for many levels of the department so people could get the data they needed to make their decisions. This demo and version one specification would then be used to show other government departments the potential of data display tools.
What we did
The first half of the project was a demo with prototyped screens and working code to show what was possible to the department. It involved a lot of Playbook methods – especially in the understanding of the audiences and context of use of the product.
The second half was working with the engineering team to iterate the demo into a Version 1.0 launch. For this we provided design guidelines and pixel measurements, font specifications etc.
We tried to demo with as much real(istic) data as possible but that wasn’t always possible so some of the grabs from early demos need forgiving.
It was great to work with Matt Biddulph - one of the most talented and genial technologists in the world. Matt very quickly got a sense of the grain of the data and started to both discover news ways to show data and also ways of making new data – eg a script that automatically creates an alert when a certain amount past the standard deviation is reached. His and my tempo of investigation and design synched well and within two weeks we had a great demo.
We were sited in the GDS office for the project which allowed people to drop by and see what we were doing. This allowed us to both understand a lot of the business of GDS as well as sell in to stakeholders of all levels.
Our client, Richard Sargeant, is passionate about data informed decisions so we always had a steer from him on what was useful to his department. His analysts were really open in describing their work and also helpful in testing the integrity of what we were proposing.
We are still engaged with the GDS department as the product develops and I’ll also be talking about some of the methods used at Strata London. We also want to do more work for government, health and security clients so do get in touch.