Proving government can deliver exceptional digital services
We set benchmarks in government service design.
Over the last 10 years, we have delivered popular and award-winning projects across health, education, finance, human services, as well as whole-of-government. We have worked at all levels of government, developing public-facing and internal services, and a striking range of prototypes and experimental services.
We provide an end-to-end service, from research and strategy through to design, delivery, operations and improvement. A key part of our success is the way we integrate all these elements to create digital services that customers love and that genuinely improve people’s lives.
Comfortable with complexity
Our comfort with complex content and complex clients makes us a good partner for government.
We know that in most government service design there is no easy fix. The policies, business rules, service menus, provider landscape, legacy systems, and customer variation all make it complicated. But we have proven that it’s possible to deliver government services that satisfy, delight and even inspire consumers.
We deliver breakthrough services by engaging deeply with the content, and then reducing complexity, clarifying messages, communicating mental models, and personalising journeys. Our approach is simultaneously ambitious and pragmatic. We’ll have a strong vision, but we’ll also co-design with community and stakeholders. We’ll design something beautiful, but we’ll also hit rigorous standards of accessibility.
Throughout the process, we help our government clients grapple with their own internal complexities, and we work within difficult constraints to find the points of highest leverage in a solution. In the end, we often find we can only produce a fraction of what we envisaged, but the solution is still 10x as effective as what was in place before.
Head to Health
The national digital mental health gateway
Head to Health is a multi-award winning part of the Australian government’s digital mental health service delivery strategy, helping consumers find trusted online programs and resources.
Although Australia is a world-leader in mental health literacy, a 2014 National Mental Health Commission found that many Australians still don’t get the support they need, in part because of the complexity of mental health as both topic and system.
H2H provides a framework for understanding mental health, specialised advice for population groups including carers, and hundreds of trusted mental health programs and resources that consumers can access online at any time. If consumers aren’t sure how to describe what they are experiencing, they can use Sam, a pseudo-chatbot that translates users’ descriptions of their own experiences into mental health terms and suggests resources that might be relevant.
Not only does Head to Health break new ground in service design, it was also a benchmark project for process. It was the first major mental health project to be co-designed with lived experience community members, and it was one of the first projects to follow the DTA’s service standard and was an exemplar for what could be achieved with an agile development approach.
H2H had probably the largest and most diverse stakeholder group we’ve ever had to work with: delivery partners, community groups including indigenous, multicultural and LGBTQ groups, medical professionals, content governance teams, mental health service providers (at both operational and executive levels) and the Department of Health. As the strategic and design lead, one of our key roles was synthesising the input from all the groups, creating an attainable vision, and leading everyone to a successful delivery.
Head to Health has proven to be highly effective, with around 25,000 unique visitors each month, with thousands of consumers being directed to specialised service providers that they might not have otherwise known about.
QGov Seniors Card Service
Creating a joined-up service
One of the biggest challenges with government services is that while consumers imagine government as one entity, the reality is more fragmented. So while a consumer might see themselves as having one problem, when they engage with government they find themselves dealing with multiple touchpoints, none of which seem to have any coordination.
The Queensland Government has been attempting to solve some of these problems through the creation of Joined-up Services. The idea is simple: to create a front-end that gives the consumer of a single transaction, while behind the scenes a digital system coordinates the required separate services.
We helped design one of the fits of these joined-up services, the QGov Seniors Concessions Card service. Queensland seniors are entitled to a range of concessions on transport, electricity, even consumables—if they have the right card, know how and where to use it, and have activated the concessions with their utility providers.
The Seniors Concessions service simplifies all this. Consumers come to one online form that asks a series of questions to establish eligibility, the right kind of card, desired concessions and relevant activations. The system notifies relevant agencies and providers in the background and essentially combines 14 separate services into one.
It remains one of the most successful examples of a QGov joined-up service. We provided service design leadership, UX/UI design, front-end development support and some of marketing/communications collateral.
Service Innovation Sprints
From big problem to prototype solution in 2-6 weeks
The Queensland Government want to create proactive and predictive government services that anticipate citizen needs and provide an almost frictionless, concierge-style experience.
This is an ambitious goal in a complex area, so to break new ground, QGov partners with Liquid Interactive and the Queensland University of Technology’s Chair in Digital Economy in regular innovation sprints.
Each of these sprints has focused on a different opportunity for delivering more personalised, proactive and predictive government services, from streamlining the process for starting up a small business, to providing more effective community support for families in crisis, to improving the economic development across the state.
And every sprint has produced exciting and powerful results: not just blue-sky concepts, but tangible working prototypes that demonstrate impact, business fit and technical viability. This is borne out by the fact that every sprint has triggered new projects and improvements both big and small within the commissioning agencies, and that the sprint partnership has continued for nearly three years, with 15 sprints to date.
Personalised and proactive service delivery
Both federal and state governments are trying to solve the account issue: how to give government customers a single view of their interactions with government. Several of our QGov innovation sprints introduced ideas that leveraged off a smart account system, which was evolved into a major initiative called MyAccount.
MyAccount is a dynamic, personalised dashboard. It promotes state government services based on user profile information including age and location. It allows for simple transactions to take place all within the one location and gives users a centralized way to track the progress of any applications.
MyAccount was an extremely ambitious project, attempting to radically overhaul the consumer’s experience in interacting with government, shifting from a department-centred to citizen-centred model of service delivery. And it had a project team to match, with Liquid Interactive and strategy and design leads, Intelligent Pathways on API development, Thoughtworks on digital development, and a large number of internal team members doing BA, project management, user testing and stakeholder management roles.
But it’s also an example of the true difficulty of whole-of-government projects, with the limitations of legacy systems, interdepartmental cooperation, data security, privacy, and segmentation of services across levels of government—which in this case were only partially overcome.
So while MyAccount was released and has been well-received by customers and has had some award-recognition, it’s ultimate value is more as a contribution to the collective effort towards better cross-government service design—part inspiration, and part cautionary tale. And key members of the MyAccount team are now working on other identity-related projects in Queensland Government that are building on the learnings from MyAccount and finding new ways to solve unsolved problems.
A mobile app to support high-performance culture in government
Not all government services are public facing. Part of the role of the Australian Public Service Commission is influencing culture and behaviour across 160,000 federal government staff. However, they don’t have any direct control over the most powerful levers of organizational influence—roles, resources or projects.
We helped the APSC come up with Ripple, a native mobile app designed to get participants thinking, talking and subtly shifting their values and behaviour. The app uses a pulse survey mechanic, issuing one culture or behaviour-oriented question every day, and showing live data of responses across departments. The effectiveness of this approach is achieved through the type of questions asked, sequencing of delivery, feedback mechanisms within the app, and the tactile interface design.
The APSC completed a three-month pilot of Ripple. Out of a pilot group of 1500 staff, over 1100 answered questions on a daily basis, representing a striking 73% engagement rate. Over 50% of those who participated attributed changes in their behaviour at work to engagement with Ripple.