My Role

Product Design Lead

Duration

Sept 2020 - Apr 2022

Tools

Mural, Balsamiq, Figma, Framer, Google Suite

About SSCL

Shared Services Connected (SSCL) is a joint venture between the Cabinet Office and information technology consultancy Sopra Steria. It has two core aims: to help the public sector save money and improve the quality of life for UK people and businesses.

Central to SSCL’s work is the rolling out of a digital transformation programme, which has included the creation of a single operating platform, to standardise and streamline how 22 government departments process and use data.

It was an initiative that contributed to £100 million in savings for the UK’s public purse. 

SSCL has been handling over £50bn of yearly payments on behalf of the government, for the past six years – processing almost seven million transactions and ensuring the correct, timely paying of more than 250,000 public servants each month.

MyHub's existing iteration

The Problem

With such staggering figures, SSCL recognised the necessity to introduce a self service hub early on, but never truly executed such a product with the tenacity it required.

There was an enormous hole in efficiency for users of SSCL's myHub product early on, and the organisation identified flaws surrounding user engagement and general use. Whilst it was glaringly obvious that conceptually myHub could unlock great potential in how adopters operated from a departmental perspective (conducting internal operations like leave requests, salary amendments, and other standard business actions), it's early iteration baked itself for a little too long in a beta phase and users lost interest.

Simply put, technically and visually its evolution became stagnant and users continued to run through multiple channels to conduct business operations as opposed to utilising myHubs early sign post infrastructure.

Execution Strategy

In the spirit of product approach, our first hurdle was to work with the client in reframing how they approached myHub, and how utilising a product based strategy focussing on sustained evolution would empower continual growth and organisational savings.

Above is an example of how I worked with the team in strategising cyclical sprints, and what it would look like within a 24 month timeframe, and below an example of a detailed 6 month sprint. To effectively provide this estimation required the rallying of the project team, and getting an understanding of roughly how we all might play our part in this approach.

User Testing

Interviews

We interviewed various teams from various organisations that had adopted myHub as a tool. The target was to discover the pros and cons of their experience using the product.

Observed User Testing

We prepared a script containing instructions that we wanted to ask organisation employees to conduct, and screen recorded conference sessions to enable ourselves an insight into how users navigated their way through the existing.

Hotjar & Analytics Observation

We implemented the Hotjar heat mapping into the front end of the website to further enable us the opportunity to analyse user behaviour, as well as monitoring a GA dashboard implemented in the early stages of the 1st iteration.

Qual/Quant Informed Opportunity Definition

We utilised all of the qualitative and quantitative data to gather and project problems statements.

Solution Brainstorming

Utilising all of the information gathered from the steps above, and working with the project team ideating solutions. The outcome being a low fidelity prototypes, and a user journey map projection.

Internal Objectives

SSCL delivered objectives from their own perspective as we have listed below.

User Personas

We created personas to convey the different types of users that will be using myHub as a day to day system.

Quick Statistics

Beyond conducting multiple user interviews, we gathered a number of thought evoking statistics that we believed may stimulate the evolution of the product.

67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative.

70% of customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.

92% of adults rely on search engines to find information on the web and expect the same functionality from every brand site.

52% of customers find web self-service portals difficult to use and need to use 2 or more channels to get their issues addressed.

Observed User Testing

Understanding

Cookies have their limits.

Return users hold very little joy in interacting with myHub unless they're only using one device. Even then, performing repeat tasks still consume an unnecessary amount of time.

The existing iteration of myHub relies on cookies to show a user their recently visited operations. Whilst the intention was positive, the journey was still not as affective as it could be. Some users ran operatives on multiple devices based on the work they conduct, and often found the 'recently visited' and pinn

Understanding

Dated user interface often deterred users.

The existing user interface failed to engage with its audience to its full capacity, and resulted in users opting to attempt to conduct tasks that were actionable on myHub over the telephone.

A common theme during user interviews was the use of the words "too much going on", indicating that users were overwhelmed by the number of tasks presented in their viewport.

Understanding

Redirects cause dropout.

During some of the actions users were asked to conduct, we noticed a high level of disengagement and confusion.

Understanding

Almost every single user lost their way.

One of the most glaring pain points throughout the entirety of our moderated user testing sessions was the number of users that lost their way. The lack of user autonomy presented itself in multiple ways, from visual language & information architecture to ux copywriting.

Solutions Collaboration

With a global pandemic deterring a lot of the IRL (in real life) collaboration midway through the project, it became pivotal that the entire project team familiarised themselves with remote collaboration tools.

Not only did this utilise the benefits of figma more than previously (the cloud based design tool empowered transparency), but our workshops and innovation sessions required a little creativity surrounding the collaboration approach moving forward. With this in mind, we utilised Mural and Figjam as a product team.

How might we:

Create a single point of access to information and services for military personnel and veterans?

In establishing a definitive HMW statement, we were able to effectively position a holistic task to execute. Whilst it may have varying pigeon holes, it was important to define the challenge in its entirety before commencing with the works.

Product Mindset

I presented a mindset change to the client prior amidst the discovery phase of the project to showcase how the shift between reactive and proactive thinking would benefit SSCL & myHub in the long term, not only from a quality assurance perspective, but with financial and time keeping considerations.

Synthesis

User Interface Deconvolution

I immediately worked towards creating a vastly simplified opening viewport. Through user testing, we discovered a lot of confusion based on the level of options piled into each viewport. Whilst we understand the intention was to present all options to the user, this was very apparently ineffective and caused a great deal of confusion and drop out. 

We added a consistent AWS powered chatbot to empower users in their journey. myHub is still very early in it's lifespan, and users are yet to fully understand its journey fluently. Utilising our AWS chatbot allows the user a hand holding reference point to turn to should they lose their way within their journey.

A simplified global nav offered far greater clarity.

Single Sign On

SSO allows users a completely personable experience without having to rely on cookies. Whilst the challenge here provided a number of hurdles from a legal perspective, we managed to navigate a data store solution using Squiz data store that empowered myHub users the ability to save important areas of information that included documentation, tasks and actions, communication, and much more.

The benefit of SSO enabled Squiz & SSCL to work together in constantly driving innovation forward based on feature requests and backlog, thus the constant drive to push more features utilising SSO.

Allowing users the ability to refer to a central repository of tasks and actions hinged on the execution of personalisation, and this was successfully implemented.

Quicklinks

Organisations that utilise myHub inherited an out of the box option to incorporate 'Quicklinks' into their home screen whether users are signed in or not. Quicklinks can be organised in multiple ways, be it manual or based on most actionable tasks per organisation.

Favourite Pages

Creating a 'favourites' section on the landing page was one of the most popular suggestions, but the most challenging part of this was making sure the feature empowered both signed in and non-signed in users.

In order to make this beneficial, the consideration was to continue to utilise the most visited pages within the company infrastructure, as well as the 'recently visited' functionality that already existed. This gives users the opportunity as first time users to visit and utilise myHub features through prompt.

Once a user is signed in, they have the capability to save any visited page or operative to their home screen and customise their myHub portal.

myDash Dashboard

To enable the product team the ability to build a true single repository of actionable tasks, the wider team had to work with third party API providers to ensure all activities could be conducted within myHub. To execute this properly, we created a dashboard that housed all tasks and data call outs for users to utilise.

As time moved forward, myDash evolved from a simple task repository, to an all encompassing dashboard infrastructure. We incorporated powerful communication technology to enable staff comms and file sharing, as well as the ability for senior figures to prompt their staff into completing tasks.

The product continues to grow and empower government clients.

Search Concierge

The utilisation of Squiz Funnelback (Squiz product) empowered how we approached smart search. With the sheer quantity of content, myHub greatly welcomed smart search optimisation.

Mobile Iterations

Whilst myHub was mainly targeted at desktop users, there was still the appetite for users with VPN access to be able to conduct specific tasks from their mobile device.

Building and maintaining a design system

To ensure a consistent approach in product evolution, I worked on the development of the first iteration of the myHub Design System.

Through building out and focussing on refining all of the components, their states, and detail on their functionality, we laid the foundation in developing an important development drive moving forward.

Selling the design system expanded on Squiz' relationship with SSCL, and paved the way for a jira backlog to consistently utilise surrounding feature requests and updates. SSCL would now be able to refer to the design system at all times.

Accessibility Testing

Creating an inclusive, accessible product was absolutely pivotal. As a part of every product I'm apart of, I created a detailed accessibility report to ensure the client the product passed WCAG AA standards.

Figma Component Catalogue

Using Figma allowed us the ability to create a comprehensive design environment that empowered the curation of accessibility reports, component listing, and general template construction that is easily translatable for dev handover.

Takeaways

Prior to golive, we rallied through multiple testing sessions of our new product and refined the design and developed product in accordance.

With multiple SSCL clients adopting myHub as their single source solution for internal ops management, we had a healthy feed of backlog requests to immediately begin work on driving the product forward.

Key Shoutouts

  • £100m savings from implementation of single operating platform

  • Streamlined data processing for 22 government departments

  • Savings set to be delivered by SSCL by the end of October 2023 are set to be up to £400m.

Elliot Rylands
Senior Product Designer @ Squiz &⤵

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