I am intrigued by the latest mini site from MySociety. Launched today Brief Encounters is described by MySociety founder Tom Steinberg as:
“a technology test-bed to help us crack a new design and data problem: how do you make it as easy as possible for users to pinpoint a specific bus stop, or train route, or a ferry port, as easily as possible? There are over 300,000 such beasties, and nobody has ever really tried to build an interface that makes it easy to find each one quickly and reliably.”
As Tom outlines on a recent blog post how Brief Encounters has been developed to provide design input to one of the more challenging projects MySociety has undertaken – FixMyTransport.
Brief Encounters provides a cost effective, fun and engaging way to crowdsource user requirements and user testing. I gave it a whirl and had a few thoughts on how to improve the mini site.
- The site is using Google maps but it could include Google Street View so you can check if you’ve selected the right bus stop.
- Somehow it wasn’t entirely clear when I’d selected my stop on the map and that I had to complete another form – perhaps a progress indicator would be helpful.
- I wasn’t asked to provide feedback after submitting my story. I noticed a feedback link in the footer, but it would have been good to get my feedback while I was in the flow of things.
I’m wondering whether the developers will get enough input from the types of users who are most likely to be the target audience of a service like FixMyTransport. Especially people who don’t have particularly good skills in using interactive mapping and web interfaces.
I was also reminded of the interesting discussion back at UX Camp London a few months back about how UX professionals could (and should) get more involved in projects like this.
Anyway, regardless of who you are, go try it out and give MySociety some feedback!
I’ve got my first speaking gig at the Public Sector Transformation Summit in Birmingham on Thursday 18th March. I’ll be speaking about the impact of social media on customer services.
I’ve decided to focus on 4 social media case studies within Cambridgeshire County Council, one of which is our Chief Executive’s internal blog. Dave Briggs has recently interviewed our Chief Exec Mark Lloyd about his blog, in his role as Community Evangelist at Learning Pool.
At the recent Localgovcamp in London I ran a session on embedding social media in your organisation. One of the outcomes of the session was that the participants agreed that we need more stories (case studies) about how social media has been used – good and bad. We agreed that publishing our social media stories on the (forthcoming) IDeA Knowledge Hub would be the best way to convey that the potential uses of social media by local authorities can vary considerably, dependent on context, purpose and target audiences. A number of these stories are now being developed at Work Together.
Updated 19/03/10 – My slides are below:
I went, I participated and I got the geek-tastic T-shirt!
At last I’ve made it to a gov barcamp! Yesterday I attended UK GovCamp 10 (or #ukgc10 on Twitter) which was organised brilliantly by Dave Briggs and generously hosted by Google at their HQ in London. As a barcamp newbie I really enjoyed myself and talked far too much. The best thing about this type of event has to be the diverse range of interesting and enthusiastic people from the UK gov webbie community who attend (on a Saturday). And I really appreciated the opportunity to meet and chat to the people I know through Twitter and those I hadn’t come across before.
It was hard to pick and choose which sessions to go to from so many good ones, but here’s a quick round up of those I attended.
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