Transform 16: User-centred Government Through Digital Services – Leisa Reichelt

From May 2013 to July 2015, Leisa Reichelt was Head of User Research for the Government Digital Service in the UK. That placed her in the middle – or perhaps at the forefront – of a revolution of sorts, a transformation of how British government offices and agencies make information available to its citizens, drawing on new and emerging technology and a user-centred design approach.

Leisa then came back to Australia to become Head of Service Design and User Research at the Digital Transformation Office (now Digital Transformation Agency), seeking to achieve a similar transformation here – a transformation that is ongoing and which is the focus of our Transform conference.

Leisa spoke at the first Transform in 2016, and as we near this year’s event (Canberra, 29-30 March), it’s timely to see how Wrap summarised her talk.

User-centred Government Through Digital Services

Leisa Reichelt, Head of Service Design and User Research, Digital Transformation Office

Leisa Reichelt

Key points

The impending federal election means that there are limits on what can be discussed at the conference, due to the government being in caretaker mode.

The Digital Transformation Office aims to help federal Australian government departments to redefine how they provide their services online.

There are over 4,500 government websites in Australia. Over 55% of users can’t find the information they need.

Government keeps asking people to give them the same information over and over and over again, which is annoying.

People think mostly in terms of one government that should therefore have all their information.

People worry that if they make a mistake in providing information to government they will be punished.

DTO is aiming for a way in which users can obtain integrated information through a primary online interface.

“People shouldn’t have to know how government works in order to use government services.”

Transform 16, Leisa Reichelt


User research has to be a team effort with all members focused on understanding user needs.

Users most want a consistent approach across their experiences with online government services.

Anxiety and fear is too often a hallmark of users’ interaction with government websites.

One issue is that various government departments don’t know how to work together, and need to be taught.

A guiding principle is that people dealing with government are going through a transition and information should be designed around that model.

The transition model requires understanding the user context and presenting them with integrated information about their options.

Understanding user context is a specific process requiring skills, empathy and a lot of research.

“User experience is the responsibility of the entire team.”

Transform 16, Leisa Reichelt


Cross-department coordination is a mammoth task, but it is mandated by law.

Even though experts have been addressing these issues for years, we still have information silos with massive gaps between them.

Conway’s Law states that organisations will tend to design systems that mimic their own communication structures, not focus on user needs.

Government has no proper view of the service user’s experience of government.

There’s so much about forms we get wrong so much of the time.

User research is a team sport.

Transform 16, Leisa Reichelt




Transform 16, Leisa Reichelt

Transform 16, Leisa Reichelt

Transform 16, Leisa Reichelt

Transform 16, Leisa Reichelt

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