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https://digitalhealth.blog.gov.uk/2020/08/15/hee-national-website-platform-alpha-assessment/

HEE National Website Platform Alpha Assessment

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Alpha, Assurance, Service assessments

Text saying "Service Assessment" with DHSC approved brand colours

From: NHSX

Assessment date: 3rd August 2020

Stage: Alpha

Result: Met

Service provider: Health Education England (HEE)

Service description

This non-transactional service aims to replace 160+ websites currently owned or supported by HEE. In doing so, it will provide clearer and more accessible information to the users, and an easier way to manage the content.

Assessing the service presented was fairly challenging as we have been shown three disparate websites with their own journeys and user needs but the part not presented was entry to the service and how things work together - although quite possibly they do not nor they are meant to.  Therefore it’s difficult to articulate what, apart from being part of a programme to refresh HEE content, makes what was assessed a  ‘platform’ unless it is meant to describe the underlying publishing technology.  

Overall it was particularly impressive how this research enabled the team to see broader issues with HEE communications and organisational design, and how in line with Conway’s law it impacts their users. Hopefully they manage to surface them leading to broader changes and ongoing shift to being a user needs-led organisation.  

Service users

The scope of overall service is humongous - as it is replacing hundreds of websites. The services we have seen were broadly intended for existing library and knowledge service professionals, and training healthcare professionals. 

Report contents

  1. Understand users and their needs
  2. Solve a whole problem for users
  3. Provide a joined-up experience across all channels
  4. Make the service simple to use
  5. Make sure everyone can use the service
  6. Have a multidisciplinary team
  7. Use agile ways of working
  8. Iterate and improve frequently
  9. Create a secure service which protects users’ privacy
  10. Define what success looks like and publish performance data
  11. Choose the right tools and technology
  12. Make new source code open
  13. Use and contribute to open standards, common components and patterns
  14. Operate a reliable service

1. Understand users and their needs

Decision

The service has conditionally met point 1 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  •  They have shown a good understanding of who the users are for each service including internal and external users. 
  • They have shared what the current problems are for users with the existing service and how their proposed service meets these needs. 
  • They have done several rounds of research, considered personas and pathways through the service. It should be noted that as the team is developing three services concurrently, more user research with a greater number of users than those presented is required. This may have been impacted by Covid and should be included as part of the beta phase
  • Have worked to consolidate user insights from the analytics and feedback of usage from the many existing websites that are being consolidated. 
  • They have a clear user-needs backlog which wasn’t presented during the assessment, but that defines what they have included in the prototype and what is yet to be included and tested. 
  • The user research conducted shows that users are able to find the information that they need, although need to ensure that testing has been done with all user-types.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • This is three services and therefore there need to be more research sprints with a greater number of user types including those with digital access challenges. 
  • The content, terminology and navigation needs further testing with end-users. More iterations will be done for the beta phase. 
  • Provide more information on the research methods used to test wayfinding and navigation as well as content, e.g. card sorting, presenting different routes through the service for different personas.
  • Provide more clarity on how learning from this project will be used to inform how additional services are integrated into the platform.     
  • Need more clarity on the user research / usability testing with back-end users, e.g. those doing content uploading and what resources will be provided to support this.

2. Solve a whole problem for users

Decision

The service met point 2 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The project is working to consolidate information all in one place, making it not only easier for end-users to find information, but also for users to upload content in an easier, consistent format.
  • Have considered processes to ensure that the content remains up to date, even when relying on local content uploaders through notifications etc. 

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Need better demonstration of the content upload system, how this has been tested and who with. 
  • More research is needed on the navigation through the sites. 

3. Provide a joined-up experience across all channels

Decision

The service met point 3 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • Depending on the individual’s point of entry and their log in, the users will view personalised information, for example by region, reducing the need to navigate through. 
  • The service will provide one channel for stakeholders to signpost to. This will replace the current confusing service landscape.        

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Need further user testing of the initial phases of the user pathway, including how users learn about the service, who HEE are and their purpose, and how users will be navigated to the site. (There was a mention of google SEO, but this needs to be tested).
  • Need to understand how users access an entry point to the service in practice and navigate from this point.
  • Some elements of the service happen offline (eg joining the relevant groups), and some conversations are yet to take place - like agreements to signpost and redirect users. We’d expect to hear more about the rollout plans and whether any offline parts of the journey will be in scope for redesign at the next assessment. 

4. Make the service simple to use

Decision

The service met point 4 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team are aware that there is a lot of complex terminology, and have adopted an ‘assume no prior knowledge for use’ policy. Although some of the terminology and content should be further explored.
  • The design of the three services presented was consistent and based on existing design patterns.      

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Ensure any new or rarely used design patterns are thoroughly tested, especially with users with accessibility needs or those low on the digital inclusion and confidence scales.  
  • Explore the document search part of LKS more - the team are aware of the importance of that part of the service and how difficult the problem might be and it would be great to hear in depth how they tackle it. 

5. Make sure everyone can use the service

Decision

The service met point 5 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • Despite Covid-19 crisis impacting both ways of working and making access to medical professionals more difficult, the team persisted and managed to speak and test with trainees that were shielding.    

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Research with users with accessibility needs and those low on digital confidence scale - both to ensure they are accounted for in service design and setup of design channels and to test usability and accessibility. 

6. Have a multidisciplinary team

Decision

The service met point 6 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • There is a multidisciplinary team in place that iterated ways of working to make sure they can collaborate effectively.     
  • While I was surprised by the lack of content designer in alpha this was well argued for by the team (as the focus was more on information architecture) and will change in beta, with an opportunity to both review difficult content and create guidance and training for content managers.    

7. Use agile ways of working

Decision

The service met point 7 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • Despite the differences in preferred document management tools the team found a good way of collaborating and retaining knowledge sprint to sprint.
  • The attendance in show & tells started off strong and continued to increase week on week, with evidence of very strong engagement afterwards.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Ensure the team maintains size and setup that enables them to work together effectively and be led by user needs while being broad enough to cover the scope - or reducing the scope for the time being. Even with three websites in scope only one sprint was spent on each, so this will need careful consideration.

8. Iterate and improve frequently

Decision

The service met point 8 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • Have iterated designs based on research findings - including providing more information in the search (for LKR) and programme comparison functions (for PGMDE). 

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Better wayfinding through the content, including the navigation. Provide greater clarity on the various research methods used to test this.
  • Continue to iterate the services through more sprints - we assessed three services at once which made it difficult to establish in depth what work remains and how the issues will continue to be explored along the pressure to move more sites to the platform - hopefully the team finds a comfortable compromise between continued iteration and improving things for other users. 

9. Create a secure service which protects users’ privacy

Decision

The service met point 9 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • Considered relevant privacy issues the service collects no personal information. Planned to adopt a federated authentication approach in beta.
  • Identified potential risks when developing custom integration for Nunjucks frontend components. Changed approach to use React components which are supported by NHS Digital to mitigate this. 

10. Define what success looks like and publish performance data

Decision

The service met point 10 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team has thought about measuring things extensively and presented a quick overview of their KPIs.  A performance analyst will be a part of the team in beta.     

11. Choose the right tools and technology

Decision

The service met point 11 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • Extensive research was conducted to decide on the use of BloomReach CMS which is also used by NHS Digital. 
  • The team has tested a range of different tools in order to determine the most appropriate. 
  • The team has a well established process from making and documenting architectural decisions.

12. Make new source code open

Decision

The service met point 12 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Migrate the code to HEE’s Github organisation. 

13. Use and contribute to open standards, common components and patterns

Decision

The service met point 13 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  •  The team has made good use of the NHS Design System to build the service. 

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • The team should explore how they can contribute to the open source community as part of this project.  

14. Operate a reliable service

Decision

The service met point 14 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team has considered this risk of the service being unavailable. Separation from all transactional elements of the associated service mitigates some of the risk of the service being offline. 

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Consider how the service will manage peak usage and what actions will be taken should the service be unavailable. 

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