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New federal standard of user-centered digital design

All federal agencies will be required to design new and redesigned web sites based on user needs from June, according to a new draft Digital Service Standard. The same standard will also apply to all existing major transactional services (>50,000 transactions pa), with agencies offering these services required to provide a transition plan by September.

The alpha standard has been released by the new Digital Transformation Office for comment and contains 16 principles agencies will need to comply with to meet and maintain the standard.

The draft standard is based on a similar standard developed by the UK Government Digital Service.

All information that is the responsibility of, or is partly owned and/or funded by, a government department or agency is subject to the Digital Service Standard. If the information is completely new then, from June 2015, it must meet the Standard before it can go live.

Under the standard agencies will be required to establish a multi-disciplinary team that can design, build, operate and iterate the service, led by an experienced service manager​. Benchmarks to measure user satisfaction, digital take-up, completion rates and cost per transactions will be required to be developed and agencies will be required to report performance publicly​.

Agencies will also be required to adopt agile iterative development processes rather than traditional waterfall approach, which has often led to delays and cost blow outs.

To promote simplification agencies will be pressed to consolidate or phase out existing alternative channels where appropriate​

According to the Standard services should be assessed at least four times before going live:

  • following the discovery phase,
  • during alpha development,
  • during beta development, and
  • just before going live.

Agencies will be required to report against the standard and a dashboard is being developed to help publicise progress.

Once new digital services are released agencies will be required to update and improve the service on the basis of user feedback, performance data, changes to best practice and service demand. Agencies will also be required to demonstrate:

  • high levels of user satisfaction are maintained in the digital and assisted digital service,
  • high levels of transaction completion are maintained in the digital and assisted digital service,
  • cost per transaction is decreasing in line with plans submitted ahead of the service’s launch, and
  • digital take-up is increasing in line with plans submitted ahead of the service’s launch, and assisted digital support is targeted at the people who really need it.

The DTO CEO role is being advertised and closes today.

More on the Mandarin: Six part video series: Lessons on digital change in Government

Author Bio

Tom Burton

Tom Burton is publisher of The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He has served in various public administration roles, specialising in the media and communications sector. He was a Walkley Award-winning journalist and executive editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He worked as Canberra bureau chief for the Australian Financial Review and as managing editor of smh.com.au. He most recently worked at the Australian Communications and Media Authority.