Designing for everyone: user research in the Cloud First Programme

March 8, 2021 by No Comments | Category Cloud 1st, Digital Scotland

Blog by Marta Kuczkowska, User Researcher, Cloud First Programme.

This programme aims to help organisations in the public sector to use and benefit from cloud technology in their services.

Designing for two audiences

In user research we work with people to understand their different goals, needs or reasons for using public services. Each user also has a different perspective on what they’re looking for. User research when engaging with citizens is relatively straightforward: identify the target audience and research their behaviours and needs. However, it takes a different approach when designing services for public organisations and engaging staff in the design process. In the Cloud First Programme, we need to have two audiences in mind: the end-users of the service, and the decision-makers (buyers), who hold budget responsibility and choose whether it will be available to those users. The person selecting the service and the person using the service are usually different – the user is not a buyer. This means they have different jobs.

Mapping users needs

The purpose of user research on the Cloud First Programme was to understand different groups of customers, their needs and behaviours. Once we have defined the target audience, we then need to find out what goals they are trying to accomplish.

Designing for working professionals requires a good understanding of their job context, workflow, environment, problems, and also looking into their current solutions.

Why we don’t ask users what they want

Users are often so accustomed to their ways of working and routine that they find it hard to imagine what they want. That’s why Cloud Team focuses on the challenges users face in their day-today work. Understanding their problems helps us design the Cloud Platform service which will help them overcome those issues, while making their lives easier and hopefully more enjoyable.

The power of pairing in framing research

Pairing is a powerful method because it’s about working collaboratively to ensure research deliverables are useful for everyone, providing sufficient insights and enabling the team to act on them. It also provides a better understanding of the service context – since Cloud First Programme is very specific and technical. Pairing with our Technical Director, Graham, allowed me to talk through and work closely on my research activities, gather a list of questions, and discuss what information was needed at each stage. This approach creates better ideas – you think differently and can even uniquely combine those thoughts. In other terms, you can diverge and then converge, increasing your paired idea output.

Once my collaboration with Graham on Cloud Platform services began and a working relationship formed, magical things began to happen. It helped improve my understanding of digital transformation within cloud service and the experiences of users.

Planning successful pairing collaboration

Begin your week by scheduling a weekly, or every second-day, appointment for pairing time with a partner for 30 minutes – adjust it to your requirements and workloads. Repeat at each stage of the process that you need help, or check-in time. The other thing you’ll need is shared commitment and a willingness to learn. You’ll see results — better collaboration within your team means a better-designed service overall.

Making decisions based on evidence

The Cloud First Programme team puts their customers first – and that starts with a deep understanding of those users, their needs and behaviours. When needs have been discovered, the team then determines and focuses on underserved needs. Services and products designed by the Cloud First Programme team will be effective and useful because their choices and decisions are based on evidence, not assumptions.

If you’d like to get in touch with the Cloud First Programme you can contact us at:

Tags: , ,


Leave a comment

By submitting a comment, you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy policy to see how the Scottish Government handles your information.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *