Phil Swan / DWP Digital

Delivering government services with DWP Digital

Working with the Department for Work & Pensions on a number of large-scale services focused on the needs of their users.

My role: Contract interaction designer
UX design, prototyping, design reviews

2016 – 2017

The Department for Work and Pensions is the largest government department in the UK and they’re changing how they work in order to deliver better public services to the millions of people who rely on them. One example of this is the Budgeting Loans service that until last year, relied on a paper-based application process.

I started working with the ‘Apply for a Budgeting Loan’ team soon after the service had moved into its private beta phase. Service teams in government follow an agile process and are made up of specialist roles including user research, content design, front-end development, software engineering, business analysis, data analysis and security. I was the interaction design lead on the service for 8 months and helped to take it from private beta through to passing its public beta Government Digital Service (GDS) assessment.

The work I did varied from high-level user flows and exploration of full end-to-end service, through to the detail of the individual web page components. I followed the methodology of hypothesis driven design; first assumptions were validated to make sure that we were focusing on real problems and then prototypes were produced and tested in user research sessions to see whether the designs were performing as intended. The service was gradually introduced to every jobcentre in the UK. As the number of users increased, we were also able to iterate based on data that was captured by the analytics.

Photos of post-it notes in ‘assumptions’ and ‘hypotheses’ columns. Printed screenshots of the Budgeting Loans service up on a wall.
Hypothesis board and user journey mapping
Prototype tested in a user research lab session

The ‘Apply for a Budgeting Loan’ service is now live on GOV.UK and receives thousands of applications each day. It’s been rewarding to see how users have received the service. We were able to simplify the application process dramatically by eliminating unnecessary questions and have increased user satisfaction by reducing error rates and the time it takes to receive the loan.

I’ve also worked on a number of significant internal-facing systems within the department. These include a case management system for visiting officers and a service that enables jobcentre staff to deliver Universal Credit. These projects have allowed me to help standardise common design patterns used by DWP.

“Phil’s strengths lie in blank paper design and creating a different way of looking at things. His motivation and determination to improve a service were key to the success of our service. He took a problem, derived a way to make it better and brought the team along with him whilst doing this. Phil would be an asset to any team.”

Michala Hare
Product Owner, Apply for a Budgeting Loan

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