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Digital Weight Management Alpha Assessment

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Text saying "Service Assessment" with DHSC approved brand colours

The Digital Weight Management service (currently renamed as: Our Family Health) is a free and fun service that helps the whole family achieve their health goals, one small step at a time. Parents, carers and their children between four and nine years old can use the service any time and anywhere to get trusted, practical and personalised tips, activities and games for the whole family.

Families can set personal goals, track progress, see achievements, and get support from other families to help them stay focused and motivated.

Department / Agency
Public Health England (PHE)

Date of Assessment:
12 February 2019

Assessment Stage:

Result of Assessment:

Lead Assessor:

Service Manager:
Jamie Blackshaw

Digital Leader:
Iain O’Neil

Assessment report

Outcome of service assessment

After careful consideration, the panel have decided that the service has met the service standard for Alpha. The panel have the following conditions for the project as it moves into
Private Beta:

  • The team should undertake an extended Private Beta that demonstrates the efficacy of the service in improving families’ health. This will involve a follow up period
    sufficient to demonstrate sustained behavioural change.
  • The team tests their service with people with low digital capability.

Service assessment

User needs

The team demonstrated a good understanding of the user needs gained through the discovery research and how this integrated with the behavioural analysis. The team were impressed by the great lengths the user researcher had gone to in conducting research with children, immersing themselves in their world to understand their needs. They told the stories of users including parents, children and families and the context of their needs, including the emotional context. This research was focussed on those families who were motivated to change. It would be interesting to explore whether this mirrored those that engaged with the face to face service.

The data from the behavioural analysis research provided support for the data obtained through user research and indicators of how some of the goals the service could be achieved. Research during beta should test whether the service has led to behavioural change and assess whether it is sustained beyond the 12 week programme period.

During assessment the user researcher mentioned user research with access needs however it was not clear whether the wider team fully understood what this involved. Whilst the team have built accessibility testing and accessibility research into their beta plan, it would be valuable for the team as a whole to understand what face to face research with users with access needs can bring over and above adherence to WCAG guidelines and expert testing centres (e.g. DAC).

It would also be valuable for the team to test their service with people with low digital ability. The team stated that they did not have any users with low digital ability that would use their service so they had not and did not intend to test with people with them. They also stated that according to their data between 1-3% of their users would have low digital ability. That shows they have identified users with low digital ability and that group consists of up to 3% of a large sample of the population. Furthermore, testing with these groups provides insight that enables a better experience for all users and one that is inclusive.


The panel were impressed by the overall team and with the relationship between the supplier and the core PHE team. The PHE policy lead was the service owner for the activity and was both engaged and empowered in his everyday work with the project.

There was a clear separation between the design aspects and the role of the user researcher and this should continue into Beta. Overall the balance of roles was appropriate for the alpha and the focus on service design that the project has and the panel were impressed by the multidisciplinary team that included obesity and healthy weight expertise, behavioural insights and design thinking.

The project was also able to articulate how the team will evolve as it moves into Beta.

The Alpha team included:

  • Service owner (PHE)
  • Service manager (PHE)
  • Behavioural insights lead (PHE)
  • Digital consultant (PHE)
  • Design director
  • Delivery manager
  • Interaction designer
  • User researcher
  • Service designer
  • Technical lead

The team operated both as a co-located team as well as employing ways of working that included weeknotes, show and tells and collaborations tools such as Jira and Realtime.

The team were a mix of PHE and an external supplier. In Alpha the balance of roles was toward the supplier side, but the team described how this will shift towards PHE providing more resource as the project moves through Beta.


Due to the complexity of the problem the team are trying to solve the team have elected focus on the value proposition for users, testing with wire frames rather than coded prototypes.

The team have made a series of recommendations which will need to be explored before entering private beta. The proposed solution is a responsive web app this is a suitable choice for this use case given the core user group and the team have acknowledged the potential issues around access this may cause.

The proposed tech stack was developed in conjunction with PHE’s digital team, based on the existing infrastructure in PHE and open source technologies. The recommendations include advice on best practice for open sourcing, security and resilience.

The panel recommends the team conduct a technical review with the PHE digital team and DHSC Digital once they have a working build of the service.


The focus of the Alpha was primarily on understanding the value proposition for a family-centric digital weight management service and testing iterations with users.

The team could show how the design of the service had been iterated based on user research including the choice of brand and the need for alternative content to that currently available. It would be valuable for the team to consider how they could work with current partners in the NHS to understand the wider service design and explore the possibility of shared content development to avoid duplication and support a better experience for users. It would also be valuable for the team to ensure that where user research suggests design decisions that deviate from current patterns and standards, this evidence and decisions are fed back to the relevant standards team.


As part of Alpha, the team have been doing some good thinking around KPIs and success measures. These included Theory of Change and building on best practice being developed as part of another PHE project exploring the evaluation of digital services.

In Beta the team should be clear about how they’re going to collect the data to measure against the KPIs.


In addition to the conditions at the start of this report, the panel also have a few recommendations it would like the project to consider as it moves into beta:

  1. As the project moves into Beta consideration should be given to the sustainability of aspects such as curation of content and resources. How will this work long-term and what would the impact be on the service in BAU? Are there any other products or services that they could work with (e.g. work with NHS UK to redevelop their content).
  2. Consideration should be given to how does this app fit into the other user journeys e.g. adult weight and other health related apps?

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