The Full User Journey

16 Mar 2018 |Written by Al Mathers

Where do we begin?

When I think about universal, accessible, inclusive or participatory design, be it in the digital or real world I don't think about what it should look like first. This has always been a point of personal conflict for someone with a visual design background. But what I think about, is who should be there, why it matters to them, and how they can drive it.

Last week I was an invited speaker at the 6th Cross-government accessibility meet up, and I chose to talk about what I see as the Full User Journey. In a room full of Government experts in digital and service design, this was quite a daunting prospect.

GDS who lead the meetups are a critical force in ensuring Government services are accessible, and in my presentation, I looked to taking the end-to-end approach that Steven Gill and Stephanie Marsh recently wrote about a step further.

If we were to design the most user-friendly, joined up digital public service (both at a local and national Government level) would it be something people wanted to use and saw from the offset as integral to their lives? To answer that we need to track back through a number of steps, and these are:

  1. Full public digital service user
  2. Assisted digital service user
  3. Willing to engage with digital services
  4. Open to use of digital services
  5. Aware of digital services
  6. Non-user of digital services

At Good Things Foundation, we and the Online Centres work from 6 to 2, and on a happy occasion 1. Which looks a little something like this:


When we published How We Change the World last month, it was our first public statement trying to conceptualize how critical recognising the person and their life circumstances is as the pivotal driver which ignites this journey of digital engagement. A journey which looks like this:


We have little influence over what brings people to seek support at an Online Centre, although this is something to consider later on in how the Full User Journey works. But the triaging, the welcome, the peer support, the informal learning, the opening up and becoming willing to engage are all key steps along this community-driven stage of the journey.

On Tuesday I wanted to extend this, and demonstrate how this can lead into assisted digital use of public services and the end goal of independent use of such services. This being the Full User Journey:


What's critical having mapped this, is how clear the current disconnect is between the end goal (of an independent user) and the other stages that go before. Likewise, who leads or has responsibility at each stage:


At the moment there are four distinct stages:

  1. An individual in need of help
  2. Community support
  3. Assisted digital
  4. Digital public service

Therefore however effective and accessible the design of a digital public service is at the fourth stage, it's very far from engaging with the individual who needs help, but isn't digitally engaged.

At Good Things Foundation we're working with a number of Government departments, such as NHS Digital, HMCTS, HMRC and DfE, to make this journey better. We're learning all the time what creates a better transition and how to support this so no one is left behind.

It's is a beginning, and it's hard, but it's critical to get right. Investing in digital public services could be so beneficial on so many levels to people who need them most. However, if the people who need them can't use them, as their journey isn't understood and supported, who are we designing them for?

You can access my full slides here.