Blaenau Gwent service improvement project – wrap up blog

Blaenau Gwent service improvement project – wrap up blog

The Blaenau Gwent service improvement project is now coming to an end so this blog will reflect on what we did over the course of this project, what we learned and what happens next. Please see our previous blogs about the project for more context around the reasoning behind it and the work that Blaenau Gwent council staff had already done.

What we did

We assembled a project team consisting of WLGA and Blaenau Gwent council staff who developed a 10-week, three Sprint project plan to improve the existing council litter reporting service, which included the following user research and content design activities:

  • Usability testing of the current service
  • Card sorting exercises to see how users want the content to be structured
  • User enquiry to understand preferred language
  • Defining user needs
  • Review of existing content and good practice examples
  • Developing new, improved content

What we learned

The usability testing showed us that;

  • The existing service is difficult to find and this is a significant blocker
  • The existing service is hard to use and frustrating, which results in users calling the council
  • There is too much information on the website and the language used is confusing
  • The residents who took part preferred using the app over the website

The card sorting showed us that most users want to see the existing content re-structured into the following general themes:

  • Household waste and recycling
  • Reporting
  • Animal control
  • Information

During the card sorting exercises, participants were asked about their thoughts on the icons and terms/language currently used. All participants agreed that most of the icons used were very confusing and open to interpretation and that much of the language used was unclear.

As well as the insight from our research, we also learned that we may have underestimated the impact of Blaenau Gwent council staff’s existing workloads on the project. There were instances where council staff found it difficult to complete their activities within the planned timescale because they had little capacity and in future this should be recognised by building in more flexibility.

There was also a change in scope that we didn’t foresee, as the user research revealed additional opportunities to make improvements to the service. This included changes to the form citizens use to report litter and related email communications, alongside the new content for the website initially planned.

Because of these factors the project team agreed to extend the project to accommodate the additional priorities the Blaenau Gwent team were dealing with. The end of the project was therefore moved from the expected date of mid-December 2022 to late-February 2023.

What’s next

The new content has gone through further usability testing and is now live on the Blaenau Gwent council website. Our plan now is to allow three months for the improved service to run and get some use, at the end of that time we will analyse the usage data and compare this with similar data that was collected before the service was changed.

We hope we will see a marked improvement in the use of this service and that we can evidence that the work carried out has created a better service for service users and for the council.  If so, then we will use this experience as a case study that we can present to some of the key senior decision makers, that don’t yet understand the true value of User-Centred Design (UCD), to encourage more UCD being used in council service design.

The Blaenau Gwent staff who worked on the project will talk more about the reasons behind the project and the work they’ve done in an upcoming show and tell on Thursday 20th April at 11am. Email if you’d like to attend and we add you to the invite list.

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