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The online public service manifesto

Statement #1


Introduction /

a broad range of consumers from different parts of Britain have participated in the research from which this manifesto is drawn. It is written from their point of view. The eight statements that follow are intended to describe and illustrate what consumers want from online public services in the future. The accompanying images are based on their ideas. There are recurring themes and, taken together, they present a vision for the future of online public services. The manifesto is for the attention of public service providers, policy makers and organisations from other sectors who offer online public services. It is designed to help bring the voice of the consumer into their design processes and to ensure that their services are more effective in meeting users’ needs. This document is part of a range of outputs that includes a full report of the primary research. To find out more visit

WWW.EXAMPLE.COM The services illustrated in this manifesto are visualisations of ideas participants discussed. All of the services and names used are fictional.


What we want from online public services

The Manifesto : Eight Statements /

THE MANIFESTO WE WANT ONLINE PUBLIC SERVICES THAT: 1. Help us to get on with the rest of our lives 2. Are easy to understand and use 3. Look clear and simple 4. Allow us all to easily register our opinion on any public service; and on the agencies at whichever tier of government that are responsible for them 5. Support us when we want to make a contribution to public services and government 6. Allow us control of our online identities and our personal data and still get the most out of public services 7. Are provided by whoever’s going to do the best job 8. Are more transparent The online public service manifesto



Statement #1


“Online [public] services should make life better and more efficient” Katherine,

Public services are not a destination or a goal in their own right, we want to use them to help us achieve outcomes in the real world. Everything about an online public service should be designed to help us live our lives more easily. We are busy and we need you to help us, not to burden us with information we don’t need, or to re-create the problems we already experience when dealing with you offline. The main reason we use online public services is to help us get things done more quickly. Online public services should understand what they can provide most effectively and what we use them for; and then concentrate on making those things easy for us to find and achieve. This means that transactions and interactions with online public services should be lighttouch, intuitive and focused on achieving a task, helping us to accomplish what we are trying to 4

What we want from online public services

27, Tooting

do. Whether it’s registering for our driving licence or applying for Housing Benefit we want to be able to focus on that task online and then to know exactly what the next steps are going to be. Online public services feel like a barrier to achieving our goals when they are slow and seem disconnected from real life. This results in us phoning services up a lot or mistrusting the information that we are viewing. Online public services should never feel like a barrier to accessing information, services or goods. They should make your services more accessible to us; and feel like the best way to get in touch, to get the right information in an up-to-date form, and to have responsive interactions. They should be powerful tools for achieving real-world action.

Scenario No. 1.0

What you need to do: • Integrate online and offline services as fully as possible.

• Understand what we want to do when when we come to use your service.

• Enable us to undertake tasks online which make life easier and lighten the load on services’ offline counterparts.

• Base the service around who is using it and what they are trying to achieve. • Make it clear what can and can’t be achieved using your service.

The online public service manifesto

Statement #1



Statement #2


“You should put yourself in my position, put yourself in the user’s position, I think that doesn’t happen enough”. Isabella, 53, Penge

Online public services should make it easier for us to access the information and outcomes we want. Most of us prefer to use the Internet rather than phone you up so we’re generally keen to give online public services a try. Many of us don’t want to have a conversation with someone delivering the service, we are happy to find the information we want, or undertake the transaction without help. You can support even those of us who are less confident by helping us through transactions step by step and not confusing us with additional information that’s irrelevant to what we’re trying to achieve. The language you use needs to be clear and provide reassurance, especially if we lack experience or are less confident online. Please don’t use acronyms or language only 6

What we want from online public services

Internet by people working in public services or IT. Use the words we use such as ‘noise’ rather than ‘environmental disturbance’. We are used to searching for things online. Nearly all of us use Google as our starting point and we will often use it to search within public sector sites, so you should think about how your information will appear in search engine results. When we’re undertaking a transaction it can often be easy to get lost and not know what to do next. You should help us to avoid this by not giving us more information than we need. We don’t want to have too many steps in the process. Most of us have had great experiences of transacting with other online services and we expect online public services to be just as good as the best we’ve experienced anywhere else online.

Visualisation of a service that helps users keep track of their student loans and repayments Scenario No. 1.0 7

What you need to do: • The language used should be written for us not for you. • Navigation has to make it really easy, or we’ll try to use the phone, or another channel instead, or worst of all may give up entirely. • Make sure your service and the information we want is easy to find with search engines.

• We might not read all the information on the page, so be careful about giving us too much information. • If we’re transacting with you, help us focus on the task in hand, help us to understand what we need to do next.

The online public service manifesto

Statement #2


Statement #3


“I expect un-jumbled websites which are clean and clear” Tiago, 24, Edgware We want online public services to make us feel reassured and confident that we’re in the right place: we like clear navigation that helps us know where we are and who we’re dealing with. Many public service websites we have used are frustrating and appear complicated. We want online public services to feel approachable and make us feel comfortable. We want them to be clear about what they are there to do and who they provide services to. We want to feel confident that we can use them properly from the first click. Complicated looking websites can make less experienced users doubt our skills and abilities 8

What we want from online public services

online and can sometimes result in killing our desire to engage with public services in this way. None of us like clutter. We like websites that present information to us simply and don’t over-complicate things. We trust public sector brands such as the NHS so it’s important that online public services are branded as public sector so we can know who we’re dealing with. We want government websites to look professional and official, this helps us trust them and make us feel safe. We like bold, clear designs that let us know we’re in the right place and help us focus on what we want from them.

Visualisation of a service that helps job seekers keep up-to-date with their job applications and opportunities.

What you need to do: What you need to do: Design youryour service to look clean and • Design service to look • Have clear branding and look approachable help us feel we’re clean and and approachable and confidentprofessional. If it’s an in the right place. help us feel confident that official government site, it Makewe’re it clear what yourplace. service is offering in the right shouldus. tell us. Have clear branding and look professional. If its an official should tell • Make it cleargovernment what your site, it • Design the service to help us. service is offering us. me focus on what I want to Design the service to help me focus on achieve. what I want to achieve. The online public service manifesto

Statement #3


Statement #4

We want online public services that make it easy to tell providers about our experiences

“the public should have the chance to say whatever they want to say” John, 64, Hackney

“online public services should enable me to have a voice in consultation” Renay, 17, Barnet

We expect to be able to discuss, comment, give feedback, and share our opinions and ideas on online public services. A lot of us also want to make suggestions, complaints and to say thank you. We expect you to listen when we have something to say because there’s usually a good reason. We get frustrated if there’s no easy way for us to do this.

reviews, but we can recognise and distinguish these.

We expect to be able to rate the things you do and to make comments. We think it’s important and that you can learn from it too. We also expect to be able to see what other people have said about you, so don’t try to hide it please. We know that people on the internet sometimes write biased

We don’t expect you to always directly provide the service under discussion, comment, and feedback, but it’s important that there is an option that makes this possible and that you have a relationship with the organisation that does provide it, and that you and/or the organisation listen to what we tell you through it.


What we want from online public services

We know you are busy so don’t always expect you to get back to us personally. Sometimes, we just want to know you have heard us. Often we are happy to receive an automated response confirming receipt of our message, which explains how our input will be used.

Visualisation of an automated reply from a local authority in response to feedback sent from a smartphone application.

What you need to do: • Make it easy for us to give feedback about the services you provide.

• Show us where we can see what other people think about your service.

• Be clear about what will be done with the information we provide.

• Make sure that the feedback we provide goes somewhere that uses it effectively.

The online public service manifesto

Statement #4


Statement #5

we want online public services to support us to make a contribution to public services, democratic processes and our communities

“There should be more ways for citizens to engage in their community online” Fiona,30-39, Sunderland

“it would be quite nice to say what’s your plans on disability, can we mutually find a way to improve this” John, 64, Hackney

Some of us, particularly younger users, think that online public services should do more to support us if we want to make a contribution to our community, public services or democratic processes. Online public services should appreciate that we may want to get more involved in a service and help us to do so. We might want to join a group connected to the service we are using or find out about how to get involved in our community. 12

What we want from online public services

Online public services should offer us the opportunity to take an active role by connecting us to groups or telling us about other actions we can take to get involved. We don’t always want to get more involved, but if we do, we should be able to find out how to do so. If we do participate more actively we want to know what the rules are and to what extent our participation will affect things.

Visualisation of a service that would encourage local residents to collaboratively submit ideas for improvement of the local area.

What you need to do: • Support us to get involved in improving public services. • Be prepared to connect us with ways in which we can become more actively involved in improving or supporting public services.

• Support us to get involved in related groups and our communities. • Provide us with feedback about the impact of our participation.

The online public service manifesto

Statement #5


Statement #6

we want to be in control of our online identities and our personal data and still get the most out of public services To get the most out of online public services we expect we will need to share some of our personal information. We think of this as a trade off - we give you some information, you give us something back which benefits us. Online public services shouldn’t expect us to give loads of our personal information for the most basic of tasks. You need to make us aware of why you need the information and what you’re doing with it. The data requested from us needs to be in proportion to what we’re getting back. When we do provide information we would like to know where it will be held, which organisations or people will have access to it and what they might use it for. It should be up to us to decide who the information is shared with. While we want to be kept informed of what happens to our data and have control over who it goes to, we don’t want long14

What we want from online public services

“I have many different online profiles; personal, and proffesional”

winded and complicated terms and conditions or small print. The idea that all public services have access to a single source of our personal data makes some of us feel vulnerable because we’re concerned that if it fails or has a problem we would be exposed. We have a range of different online identities and want to take similar approaches to managing our relationships with online public services; sometimes we will want to give a lot of personal information, at other times we will just want a straightforward transaction. We also need to be confident that the service is secure and that you will respect our privacy. Generally, we are happy with setting up and maintaining multiple accounts. Though we might like the option to link relevant services together (for example tax and student loans), the main thing is that we have control over the data in each of the services we use.

Visualisation of a tool that would help users take control of their personal data.

What you need to do: • Let us know what data is held on us and where it is held. • Let us know what you are using our data for and what the benefits are for us. • Give us access to the data you hold on us.

• Don’t ask for more information than you need, and don’t ask for information you already have. • Tell us what the deal is when we are asked to share or exchange our data with you. • Tell us how you are protecting our data.

The online public service manifesto

Statement #6


Statement #7

we want each online public service to be provided by whoever’s going to do the best job Our primary concern is that online public services work well. We are open to services being provided by third parties, but we’re interested in why they are providing the service. When we’re looking for information we generally trust information provided on official government websites such as NHS Direct or Directgov. If we’re interested in finding out what others think, communicating with other consumers, or feeding back on public services, we’re happy to use services such as Mumsnet, or Patient Opinion that are provided by third parties and which help us interact with, navigate, or make choices about public services. If we’re transacting with you we’d rather not go through a third party but will do if it will significantly improve the service we get; for example, many people use third party service to help setup businesses. Some of us, especially if we are older or advanced users, are more likely to look up who owns and runs a website before using it.


What we want from online public services

“The information or service might come from government, but they might not be best placed to build the interface”

Alex, 29, Kent We want to understand who is providing it and why. If you are not a government body, we want to know why you are providing the service. Are you a charity or a voluntary body? Are you a not-for-profit, or are you making money from it? We’d like to be able to find this out fairly quickly and you should be open in providing the information. This usually won’t stop us from using the service but it can help us decide between rival services doing the same thing. If we are younger or less advanced Internet users, we are not likely to check up as often on who owns, runs and funds a service, we’ll tend to do what our friends do. We expect the government to be responsible for providing good, sound data which all of us can access and use too, including developers who can use it to build tools that are useful to us. If we can find it, we trust information that comes from the public sector and trust websites that use it and reference it as a source. We care more about the quality of a site than who is providing it to us, but we want to want to know who’s running it and the provenance of the information they are using.

Visualisation of a online public service platform.

What you need to do: • Tell us who you are and why you’re providing this service. • Think about who is best placed to provide this service, and each part of the service.

• Be prepared to let go, or support someone else to deliver the service, if they can do a better job.

The online public service manifesto

Statement #7


Statement #8

we want more transparency

“I would like to have transparent information, so that I can see where my contributions are going” Jamie, 19, Glasgow

We’re getting used to expressing ourselves over the internet, so we know that putting information online is not expensive or difficult. Therefore we expect to be able to find out about anything that we’re interested in, especially public services. All public service information should be easily searchable. As we’ve said before, we mostly use Google to search the Internet, so information should be provided in way that can be picked up easily by search engines. Sometimes organisations or groups make public sector information more useful and interesting for us, such as 18

What we want from online public services, so it is important that the information is available for them to do this. We would like to see increased transparency in relation to the interactions and transactions we are having with you - showing us what is happening with our information will help us trust the services we are dealing with and know what to expect. If we know more about the way that they work and can see exactly what is happening to our information, we are more likely to have a satisfying experience. For example if we put in a comment about a planning application we want to

19 Scenario and No. 4.0why. Visualisation of a tool that explains which pieces of information will be made public

What you need to do: • If we’re transacting with you, tell us what’s going on behind the scenes and give us information to help us know what to expect.

• Publish public information in ways that make it easily picked up by search engines. • Publish public information in ways that make it easy to be re-used.

The online public service manifesto

Statement #8


thinkpublic were commissioned by Consumer Focus to condusct research into the future of online public services. This research was aimed at bringing consumer needs and wants into the debate on online public services. Its focus was to understand what people wanted from public services, whether the internet/ web can improve those service, what those services should look and feel like, and who should provide them. What we want from online public services The online public service Manifesto


Online Service Manifesto  
Online Service Manifesto  

Online services manifesto