The HRA website is a key resource for the organisation. Providing information, guidance, policies, consultations, calls for comment and resources. It is often the first point of contact that researchers have with the HRA and our services.
The functions and duties of the HRA are set out in the Care Act.
The HRA are creating a new website that meets the needs of users and is future-proof, to ensure they are responsive to emerging technologies and trends, that it can build on to limit the need for future large-scale redevelopments.
The current website has grown organically as the HRA has taken on new services and responsibilities. It is dense and complex to navigate, holding around 400 pages and over 1,000 documents. The user journeys are unclear and result in a large number of unnecessary contacts by users via phone and email.
It has duties to publish guidance and best practice in the management and conduct of health and social care research and guidance on the requirements researchers conducting health or social care research are subject to.
Department / Agency:
Health Research Agency (HRA)
Date of Re-assessment:
28th September 2017
Result of Re-assessment:
Outcome of service assessment
After careful consideration, the panel have concluded that the HRA website is ready to move to public beta because:
- Further face to face user testing has been conducted and actioned
- Assisted digital support has been reviewed and iterated in collaboration with phone support workers.
- KPIS for the existing HRA site has been benchmarked to measure success in public beta
Conditions and actions from private beta report
- Before public beta, the team should conduct further face to face user research with a range of user types. Where possible this should be done by a user researcher, however:
The team understands that there are budget constraints for user research. We suggest that the team contact a local organisation such as a University to carry out some face to face usability testing with new Phd students. The organisation might also be able to provide access to low digital & assisted digital students, those less familiar with HRA and those who have English as a second language. The team suggest HRA observe student users trying to complete tasks and use the various interactive search facilities to see if they succeed first time (e.g. date fields). Also new health & social care Phd students would be part of their most challenging user group of ‘new applicants/researchers’ who they need to research in more depth.
- HRA should test assisted digital support through their contact centre to identify any challenges for contact centre staff supporting the new site over the phone.
- HRA to benchmark the KPIS for the existing site so that it is clear what success looks like in public beta
Following the beta assessment the panel were very pleased to see that the HRA team have taken the following actions:
Actions - condition 1
- The team visited Manchester University to carry out some face to face usability testing basing themselves in the main health research building on the campus for the afternoon.
- The team spoke to a range of users including those with low digital & assisted digital needs (for example those less familiar with HRA and those who have English as a second language.
- The team observed students and others trying to complete tasks and use the various interactive search facilities to see if they succeed first time (e.g. date fields).
From the testing the team identified and made changes to the site and plan to continue to monitor the effectiveness of these changes during public beta. The team have also supplied a research plan for public beta, which includes focus groups, guerrilla testing and face to face usability testing.
Actions - condition 2
The team tested assisted digital support through colleagues who run the HRA mainline – the first port of call for enquirers to the HRA. They held a seminar for colleagues that involved a comprehensive overview of the website and identified potential challenges for contact centre staff supporting the new site over the phone. This has resulted in a updated triage document and additional guidance for the mainline operators to use when the site is live. The assessment panel reviewed this document and can confirm it is comprehensive.
The HRA team will continue to monitor the effectiveness of this guidance and their assisted digital support by sitting in on calls to the helpline during public beta.
Actions - condition 3
The team have provided a full range of benchmarks from the existing HRA site against their 6 priority key KPIs.
The team will be monitoring the effectiveness of the new site in public beta against these KPIs.
The assessment panel request that the team carry out a show and tell in public beta to show progress against these KPIs.
HRA advised that they have been trying to make contact with GDS about monitoring the mandatory KPIs and have asked that DH digital assist is progressing this conversation.
Recommendations to prepare for live assessment
- HRA to complete research to show that the needs identified in alpha, and beta have been made
- HRA to complete call listening for assisted digital service in public beta
- HRA to ensure that analytics have been set up and to be able to demonstrate before live how this data has been use to improve the site
- HRA to do a full accessibility audit and action the recommendations before go live in accordance with GDS standards
- HRA to create a channel shift plan
- HRA should create and complete a formalised plan to knowledge transfer the following skills in order that these skills can be retained once the supplier and the product delivery manager leave the project:
- User research skills
- Product delivery skills
- Analytical skills
- HRA to put in place a continuous improvement plan that includes how and when research will be conducted and when data will be fed back into the team to identify and prioritise improvements beyond live. This should also include who in the team is responsible for the elements of continuous improvement.
- HRA should implement GOV.UK common tools and patterns, where helpful
- HRA to contact GDS to determine if they need a performance platform dashboard
- HRA comms team to create a plan to feed user research back to the HRA IRAS team so that valuable learning about the usability of IRAS can be actioned
- HRA to do show and tell during public beta for assessment panel to playback progress against KPIs and demonstrate their preparedness to go to live assessment