Sarah Wood at the UK Department of Health: “We recently ran a survey of our internal DH Citizen Space users. Citizen Space is the digital tool that DH and a number of other local and central Government Departments use to run their consultations.
Overall, our survey results were positive with staff reporting they had found the tool relatively easy to use and access. The survey did flag some internal issues eg. visibility of the tool in the Department, minor technical issues etc, which we’re planning to address through better promotion of Citizen Space and training, but on the whole our internal user experience seemed to be good.
However, there was one area where internal users did seem to be experiencing problems, and ironically it wasn’t with the tool itself. Many of our survey respondents seemed to be struggling with the analysis of their consultation responses, with some teams even questioning the usefulness of the data they were amassing from their digital consultations.
Some common mistakes
To help us get to the bottom of what was going on, we contacted some of our respondents and met with some consultation teams to talk about how they design, run and analyse the responses from their digital consultations. We found some common mistakes:
- Not thinking ‘digital first’ – not designing consultations with a digital audience and digital responses in mind. Eg. writing consultations for print and then trying to shoehorn them into a digital tool
- Not identifying what ‘real’ success means for a consultation before launching it or not putting in place the metrics needed to measure for success. Eg. not setting benchmarks, not measuring qualitative data or not identifying key target audiences and how to reach them.
- Not thinking about the type and/or amount of data that will be returned and planning resources and tools accordingly. Eg. asking lots of free-text questions and then drowning in responses
As a team, we are trying to address many of these issues by improving the way the Department approaches and designs its digital consultations. The next iteration of our Digital policymaking toolkit, which will combine a new set of Policy Standards with our digital tools, techniques and advice for policymakers, should help. Alongside other work our team is doing to build up digital capability in the department and to produce analytical tools for data mining and sentiment analysis that will help teams with free-text analysis.
…how to use or build a consultation in Citizen Space, you can find one of those in the Citizen Space User Guide and further guides and user forums on the Citizen Space Knowledge Base website.