Designing a toolkit for policy makers

 at UK’s Open Policy Making Blog: “At the end of the last parliament, the Cabinet Office Open Policy Making team launched the Open Policy Making toolkit. This was about giving policy makers the actual tools that will enable them to develop policy that is well informed, creative, tested, and works. The starting point was addressing their needs and giving them what they had told us they needed to develop policy in an ever changing, fast paced and digital world. In a way, it was the culmination of the open policy journey we have been on with departments for the past 2 years. In the first couple of months we saw thousands of unique visits….

Our first version toolkit has been used by 20,000 policy makers. This gave us a huge audience to talk to to make sure that we continue to meet the needs of policy makers and keep the toolkit relevant and useful. Although people have really enjoyed using the toolkit, user testing quickly showed us a few problems…

We knew what we needed to do. Help people understand what Open Policy Making was, how it impacted their policy making, and then to make it as simple as possible for them to know exactly what to do next.

So we came up with some quick ideas on pen and paper and tested them with people. We quickly discovered what not to do. People didn’t want a philosophy— they wanted to know exactly what to do, practical answers, and when to do it. They wanted a sort of design manual for policy….

How do we make user-centered design and open policy making as understood as agile?

We decided to organise the tools around the journey of a policy maker. What might a policy maker need to understand their users? How could they co-design ideas? How could they test policy? We looked at what tools and techniques they could use at the beginning, middle and end of a project, and organised tools accordingly.

We also added sections to remove confusion and hesitation. Our opening section ‘Getting started with Open Policy Making’ provides people with a clear understanding of what open policy making might mean to them, but also some practical considerations. Sections for limited timeframes and budgets help people realise that open policy can be done in almost any situation.

And finally we’ve created a much cleaner and simpler design that lets people show as much or little of the information as they need….

So go and check out the new toolkit and make more open policy yourselves….(More)”