Whats on tap this month?

Spotlight on user research

"Design for your user, not you"

It’s crucial to continuously get input from users when designing, building and delivering services. User research informs the design decisions we make and ensures that services work for those who need to use them.

This month, we shine a spotlight on user research, a growing discipline within the Government of Canada. We also talk to the researchers on the team to learn about their roles.  


Our researchers

Eman El-Fayomi is the Acting Head of Design with a knack for asking users the right questions and an unhealthy obsession with sparkles.
Mithula is a Senior Design Researcher dedicated to creating human-centred solutions to 'wicked' public service challenges.
Hillary Lorimer is a Design Researcher who believes that solutions should start and end with a thorough understanding of the problem and deep empathy for those experiencing it.

What’s the goal of user research?

Hillary: “What’s the point of a map? It gives you information and a point of view that you couldn’t access otherwise. Imagine waking up with no knowledge of what city you’re in. You walk east to find a Tim Hortons because that’s where you normally eat breakfast and that’s where it is relative to your house in your home city. Plot twist: there is no Tim Hortons in this city. That’s what deciding on a product direction based only on your own limited experience is like. A user researcher gives you a map of the city so you can see beyond your own point of view (your own user experiences). They also point out important landmarks that you probably want to visit (user needs), and give you a legend to explain all the squiggly lines and symbols (user behaviours).”

How do you explain what you do?

Mithula: “Government works for the Canadian people and I talk to Canadians. I talk to them to find out what’s not going well, what they need, and what could be better. I’m a bridge for people back to government.”

Eman: “Before creating something, whatever it is, you need to go straight to the people who will be using the service or product. I get their thoughts, feelings, perspectives, and what they would like to see happen most. Whether that’s an improvement, a whole redesign, or a new feature; I’ll never know unless I ask them.”

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Mithula: “The favourite part of my job is connecting users’ needs to how public servants actually deliver a service. Public servants are amazing people, they’re very mission-driven to make Canada better. To get them closer to the people that actually use the services that they’re designing, and to be that bridge, it’s very gratifying. I’m very humbled by the role, just to be that bridge, like a fly on the wall, or a messenger more than anything else”

Thank you, ladies, for your time and help! You can follow Eman, Mithula, and Hillary on Twitter!

Next month’s newsletter will put a spotlight on product management. Have a question for the team? Submit your question on Twitter or by email!

Spot the difference

Citizenship applicants receive appointment notices like these. Using insights from user research and testing, CDS worked with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to redesign it. Can you spot the main differences that make this letter easier for users to understand?

See product progress

In Discovery, we get to know who the users are, what they need, and how those needs are being met or not by existing government services.

In Alpha, we figure out how to design, build, and run the minimum viable “thing” that will meet user needs. How users respond to this “thing” tells us how it should be delivered as a Beta or whether more development is needed.

In Beta, we build a working version of the product to handle real transactions and work at scale. We continually test it with users, update it, and measure the effect of any changes to prove if we are are meeting user needs.

When a product or service is Live, it is supported and continuously improved for real users in the real world.

Learn more on our Product Page.

Help us build digital products

This week, we launched a Request for Proposals (RFP) to build new bridges with the vendor community across Canada and beyond.

Do you want to support us in our mandate to improve services for newcomers to Canada, Veterans, seniors, and others? Help us implement and scale digital government in Canada by providing strategic advice, finding great people, and providing training to strengthen government’s digital capacity.

If you want to make a big impact, this RFP is for you. The deadline for submitting a bid is Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 15:00 EDT.

At the risk of going full BuzzFeed, here are eight things you need to know about bidding and how to apply.

Work with us

We’re always looking for talented, passionate, and driven people to work on some of Canada’s biggest service delivery opportunities. We are looking to fill these positions as soon as possible:

Be the first Head of Engineering at CDS

As the head of engineering, you’ll push the limits of what’s possible for a government that serves 37 million people. You’ll lead our engineering team and set the vision and tone, shape technical direction and choices, assess our needs, and recruit to fulfill them.

Be one of the first Product Managers in government

We’re looking for someone passionate about using product management to transform public services. Be part of a world-class, multidisciplinary team of engineers, designers, and researchers who share a vision of building better public services for Canadians.

Contact us

All feedback, comments, and questions are welcome! We’re also looking to expand our reach and stay connected with the broader digital community in Canada, so we encourage you to share this newsletter!

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