The Digital by Default Service Standard came into full force at the start of April. This means that at each assessment stage - post-alpha, pre-beta and go live - all new and re-designed digital services have to demonstrate how they will provide high quality assisted digital help for users to meet criterion 10 of the standard: 'Put appropriate assisted digital support in place that’s aimed towards those who genuinely need it.'
One of the first exemplar services to go through an assessment under the full set of Service Standard criteria was Apprenticeship applications. The service was being assessed at the end of the alpha service design phase so it could move to beta. In order to pass the assessment the exemplar team needed to demonstrate how they had:
- identified their assisted digital users
- gathered data on their users' assisted digital needs and barriers to using the service online
- created plans to develop and test free and sustainable support to meet these needs
In the months and weeks preceding the assessment, the Apprenticeship service exemplar team worked closely with a GDS user researcher and were supported by the assisted digital team to identify the needs of their assisted digital users.
This included observing telephone calls and reviewing postal enquiries received by the National Apprenticeships Service Help Desk to find out what users were calling about, examining web logs, working with the National Careers Service about the support they provide to candidates, and undertaking user research with candidates and employers to learn directly about their assisted digital needs and find out where they currently go for help and support.
Based on this research, it was concluded that both candidates and employers were likely to require support on their journeys to either becoming apprentices or setting up apprenticeships, but a low proportion were identified as potentially needing assisted digital support to do so. Third parties will play a major role in the creation of apprenticeship applications, but the majority of assisted digital support needed is likely to relate to provision of apprenticeship information and advice. There are also opportunities to drive digital take-up by making this information and advice easy to access as part of the redesigned service.
Assisted digital user personas were used to map the user journey through the service for candidates and employers. The results helped the team to develop assisted digital options for the beta. These were presented at the assessment, along with all the research evidence collected.
All went smoothly on the day and the service passed the assessment with flying colours.
Now that the exemplar team have the assessment successfully under their belt, the next step is to test assisted digital with real users during the beta. We are looking forward to working closely with the team to do this.