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HFEA website and clinic finder - Live service assessment

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The HFEA website provides information for patients, donors, donor-conceived people, professionals working in clinics, researchers and the media. The redesign project aims to better meet user needs and upgrade an outdated infrastructure.

The clinic finder is a tool for patients and clinics to get impartial, unbiased information about clinics, the treatments they offer and how successful they are.

Department / Agency:
Human Embryology and Fertility Authority (HFEA)

Date of Assessment:
8 March 2017

Assessment Stage:

Result of Assessment:
Not pass

Lead Assessor:
N. Chowdhury

Service Manager:

Digital Leader:

Assessment Report

Outcome of service assessment

After careful consideration, the panel have concluded that the HFEA website and clinic finder is not yet in a position to move into live. It is clear that the team have made considerable progress since beta. In particular, the panel were pleased to see the following:

  • Knowledge sharing in the area of user research between the delivery partner and HFEA
  • Technology choices and approach to bringing in knowledge from outsourced teams

However, there are still areas which need attention before the service meets the standard expected for live operation.

We suggest the team take some time to address the recommendations below before returning for a re-assessment.



User needs and assisted digital:

  1. Identify end-to-end user journeys so they can be tested through the site and measured for successful outcomes. This may include meeting with users and others such as health care professionals, charity organisations, etc to learn where users are currently running into problems with their journeys.
  2. Establish the types of needs and journeys that assisted digital users will have, and how those needs will be met at scale. Channel shift appears to be a large focus, but it is not clear how the team is working to make the information accessible in the right ways for people who have lower confidence online, or cannot access the site due to affordability of technology or in remote areas without high speed services.
  3. Test with users who have never heard of the agency or service. Most of the usability testing appeared to be with people who were already aware of fertility services when a key area of focus from the presentation was to help people who have never heard of them understand their site. More consideration needs to be given to signposting users both into and out of the website on what they are likely to do next.

The team:

  1. The team need to establish a more robust plan for the continued development of the service once the current delivery partner leaves.
  2. The team should avoid having one person taking on multiple roles (research, design, product etc) as part of the on-going service development

Improving the service and design:

  1. The team need to implement a scalable plan for dealing with on-going improvements to the service. Combining data from lots of sources such as call drivers, surveys and interviews with Google Analytics will help to provide a better picture of how the site is working for their users.
  2. Test the site further for accessibility. For example, the colour patterns and contrasts might not work for a person with a visual impairment, dyslexia, or a neurological condition. Consider bringing in an outside supplier that can review the site for accessibility.
  3. Additional work needs to be done to build the team’s understanding of needs and journeys of users with accessibility issues.

Security, privacy, tools and standards:

  1. Complete the penetration testing and action recommendations from the report.
  2. Developing in the open by default is recommended to the team as it ensures secrets and code is maintained at a high standard. The team should do a review before the codebase increases and open source before going live.
  3. The team should focus on opening the APIs for consumption by other services such as NHS Choices/NHS.UK who have duplicate content.
  4. Put in place a robust plan for the service being offline and perform tests to ensure the organisation knows how it will respond. This must be in place before going live with a digital service being provided to citizens.

The panel would like to thank the service team for their time and the effort the team went to in preparing for the assessment. We look forward to seeing further progress in the months ahead.

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