Since May 2023, I have been having an absolute blast working at the Ontario Digital Service as an Experience Design Co-op. I have been immersing myself in user research projects with ministries across the government in their respective phases (discovery, alpha and beta) of their digital product development. From previous and current projects, here are some of my responsibilities.
When starting a new project, I read as much material as I can and ask the partners as many questions as possible to better understand the problem at hand.
Communication is key for any project. My team and I consult with the partners weekly for both project collaboration and discussion.
Creating user research (UR) plans is an initial step we take early on to align goals, objectives and logistics with the partnering team. I have been responsible for creating the document and discussing with partners to move forward with the project.
After aligning the teams with the UR plan, I have led the participant recruitment process through creating screeners, reaching out and booking participants with the consideration of everyone's schedules.
I have had the opportunity to facilitate over 35 interviews and usability tests with internal and external user groups. This responsibility also includes creating scripts and note-taking templates.
Once the interviews are over, our team moves analyzes the findings from the interviews and synthesizes them into insights. I have been responsible for working with teammates to uncover these insights.
Moving forward, once all of the findings have been synthesized into key insights, I am responsible for compiling everything into a cohesive report slide deck with recommendations.
After the report, we present our findings and recommendations to the partners. I have been responsible for presenting and answering any questions the partners have.
My experience has been nothing shy of exciting and full of learning opportunities. Here are some numbers that represent my time at the ODS.
Below are some lab projects that I have either completed or am currently working on. Full project breakdowns coming soon!
We completed a mid-beta user research project of a public facing service that's changing to a new vendor system. Through usability testing, we helped inform improvements to the online application service.
we completed a discovery user research project of an existing public facing application process to investigate underlying issues before procuring and building a solution.
We completed a discovery user research project of an internal facing OPS service to understand the needs of users which will help inform the partners future direction of the program.
I am working on an internal facing discovery user research project to help inform improvements to several products under the Digital First Umbrella including the Digital First Assessment process, the Digital Service Standard, and Digital Maturity Supports.
For each project, we usually had two to three other co-ops and oversight of a Senior Designer. They continue to push me to become a better designer and future leader. Below is a picture of this term of ODS co-ops on Halloween! (I'm on the right)
Every day I'm learning something new whether it is a new trick on Miro or solving a project challenge. There’s still so much to learn but here are my main takeaways so far!
Working with different teams on multiple projects can make planning and collaboration a nightmare. I have learned that communicating and really understanding what's on my teammates plates has helped tremendously for project planning and collaboration overall.
The User experience practise is still very young in the government. I have learned that there can be push-back from those who might not yet know about the values of UX but that’s okay, it’s up to us as practitioners to bring both expertise and knowledge to the table so that everyone can grow.
Early on when I first started moderating interviews, I was so focused on getting the next question ready to avoid what seemed to be at the time awkward silence. I have since learned that taking pauses between questions gives participants time to reflect and potentially elaborate on their previous points. I'm excited to continue improving my interview skills.
As a designer, my goal is to positively impact the lives of as many people as I can through design and research. It’s been really quite incredible be part of improving services that impact so many. Especially hearing first hand from members of the public on their challenges and how we can help support them through improving new or existing digital services.
I am looking for co-op opportunities in UX design and research. If your company aligns with my values and work, I would love to chat!