GovInnovate Brief

Everything you need to know about the Digital Service Standard

Posted by GovInnovate Team on 03-Jun-2016 12:14:42


Since his appointment late last year as CEO of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO), Paul Shetler has been making headlines and turning heads with his refreshing take on government services. His goal? To make Australia not only great, but the best at delivering digital services.

He states: “Our opportunity is immense. We think Australia can become the best in the world at delivering government services.”To accomplish this, it’s important to have a set of guidelines and standards that agencies can turn to so they can reflect Shetler’s goal of being ‘the best’.

Last month, the DTO released the Digital Service Standard in an effort to create consistently well run, and easy to use digital services. Sound exciting? Let’s take a look at how the Digital Service Standard will change agencies by assessing their criteria, Content Style Guide, and how this will cater to a diverse range of users. 

13 criteria for making ‘the best’ digital service

Many of the criteria within the standard are not new, but what is clear is that the user is at the centre of all of them.

Number 6 is one of the new criterion that has been added to the mix, and it iterates the importance of consistent and responsive design. We covered Adopting a mobile-first policy: why is shouldn’t be just an afterthought here, but both our post and this criteria emphasise responsive design as a critical path for great service because it makes delivery simpler, clearer and faster.

But how can you create a responsive design without understanding your user needs? And how can you ensure it will be easy for them to use when they encounter your service?

Criteria number 1, Understand User Needs, is the first and most important criteria to consider when building a service. It’s a bit like writing a book, it’s all well and good to write a book that you think is interesting, what will there be people willing to read it?

The same concept applies to digital services, the user and their context for using the service should be forefront of mind. 

If you want your agency to be positively the best at Digital Service Delivery, it is highly recommended to read the full criteria for the Digital Service Standard, and you can find it here.

But on a side note, criteria number 5, making it secure, and criteria number 6, making it accessible, are two elements that are incredibly important and need to be built into the early phases of development as they both go hand-in-hand. If you’re planning on a lot of customers accessing the service, then it’s important to ensure all their personal details are secure. And likewise, if a service is not secure, you’ll notice your adoption rate suffer.


Implementing a modern content style guide

Once you’ve built your platform according to the service standard, the next consideration is making a consistently modern style. So why is this important? Putting together a future-ready content style for your platform will make a world of difference to the way users engage with your agency. 

Let’s look at Instagram as an example. Recently they’ve adopted a more modern interface to make is easier for business profiles to use analytics and utilise promotion options. But the difference in the interface is clear and quite dramatic. GovInnovate-Brief-instagram-before-and-after_copy.png

The image on the right shows the difference between the older, more clunky version on the left, in stark contrast to the future-ready, modern style on the right.

These features once again steer into the DTO’s style guide for that once again iterate being easy to use, and direct and simple to understand. You can read more about it here.



Considering the diversity of your users

If you’re wanting to make a great service that is easy for everyone to access, it’s also important to consider the wide range of diversity within Australia. Not everyone has access to great internet services, and once more, not everyone is adept at using mobile platforms. And if that wasn't enough, if you’re native tongue isn’t English, how will you find the right information in the language you need it?

Great digital services that cater to a range of different people could be bolstered by these simple tips:

  • Use plain language
  • Consider making information online available in other languages
  • Consider text-to-speech options; spoken English is often understood better than written English
  • Use design elements that are universally understood and culturally appropriate
  • Present data such as dates in ways that will be clear to international audiences
  • Include people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds during the usability testing of the service
  • Develop mechanisms to support intermediary information providers

You can read more about catering to diversity here.

We hope you found this post useful when designing your digital platforms, if you liked it, please comment below or share on Twitter and Facebook.

Topics: digital service standard, accessible services, secure services, instagram business analytics, responsive design, diversity of users

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