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  1. Service manual
  2. User research
  3. User research in beta

The aim of user research in the beta phase is to:

  • test the developing service with likely users to make sure it meets their needs
  • understand and resolve usability issues

Meeting the Digital Service Standard

To pass point 2 (do ongoing user research) in your service assessments you must show that you have an ongoing plan to research and test your service so you can keep improving it based on users’ needs.

To pass point 12 (make sure users succeed first time) you must show how you’ve researched end-to-end user journeys and designed them to meet the needs of all your users, including those with disabilities and support needs.

How to do user research in beta

You need to think about your service from end to end and consider all the ways that users interact with it (including all tools, transactions, support and offline steps).

Who to research with

You must do research with a broad range of users, including:

  • those with limited digital access and confidence
  • people with a range of visual, hearing, motor and cognitive impairments
  • people who use assistive technologies like screen readers or speech recognition software - you can do this once you start working with production code

You should also include people who provide the service or who support other users (for example, caseworkers, call centre agents and charity workers).

Learn more about finding user research participants.

Typical user research activities

In beta, you can learn how well your service meets your users’ needs by:

  • doing face-to-face and remote usability tests to find usability and accessibility issues
  • commissioning an accessibility audit to uncover accessibility issues and get recommended fixes
  • running private or public beta tests of the end-to-end service with real users, including support options
  • reviewing web analytics and back-office data to measure service performance
  • using surveys or follow-up interviews to collect detailed feedback from service users

From these activities you’ll typically learn:

  • more about how different kinds of users experience your services
  • the usability and accessibility issues you need to fix
  • ways to improve your service

You’ll have done enough research when you have good evidence that your service works well for users and meets their needs, including those with support and access needs.

You may also find these guides useful:

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User research community
Last update:

Guidance first published