GDS invites civil servants to join new user research panel

Written by Sam Trendall on 17 December 2021 in News

Digital agency seeks colleagues to help assess services in development

Credit: Nick Youngson/Alpha Stock Images/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Government Digital Service is inviting officials to join a new research panel for the assessment of services and platforms in development.

The panel, which will begin work next year, will be comprised of civil and public servants from across all four nations of the UK. Representatives from all organisations and levels of seniority are invited to join.

Activities undertaken by panel members might include testing products, completing surveys, or working with researchers and designers to discuss ideas and possible solutions to service problems.

“You may not have been aware… that we run user testing with civil and public servants, almost daily. Or that GDS creates these products and services to support your organisation and its digital services to overcome common challenges,” said GDS senior user researcher Andy Parker, in a blog post. “User research is a big part of making digital services and transformation human. It is a way for teams to hear what is happening for the people that we want to help. By taking part, you will have been an important part of making government services great.”

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Parker said that it is more difficult to recruit civil servants to take part in user research than it is members of the public – which means multiple teams and services in train across GDS can end up working with the same people time and again.

The goal of the panel is to expand and diversify the digital agency’s base of research participants.

“Building out these social networks takes time and can happen at an individual level. We want to demonstrate our values on delivering diverse, and far-reaching research by creating the right tools to help us overcome some of these challenges, and demonstrate how we make informed decisions that ensure digital in government is representative of the UK,” Parker said. “In the past, we know that participants in user research have felt disconnected from the outcome. They may have taken part in studies that related to topics close to their own work and don’t think their contribution made a difference. We want to change that. Developing our research panel is the first step.”

GDS indicated that panel members will “only be invited to take part in studies we think you will find interesting, and that we believe you will benefit from the outcome of”. Participation in all activities will be entirely voluntary, and members will not be invited to take part in multiple research initiatives in quick succession.

“Your opinions, thoughts, experiences and feelings matter,” Parker said. “Anyone that has taken part in user research in the past will have had a direct impact and influenced the way that a service was created or continues to be improved.”

Potential participants are invited to sign up here.


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on

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