Help With Fees - Alpha Assessment

The report from the alpha assessment for MoJ's Help With Fees service on 4 February 2016.

Stage Alpha
Result Pass
Service provider Ministry of Justice

Outcome of service assessment

This was the best assessment this panel have seen. You’ve made an excellent product and you’re building it in exactly the right way. You’re making things easier for thousands of people at a distressing time in their lives.


Your user research is excellent

You showed a real understanding of your users and their needs. We’d like to thank Ana for doing such a good job. You got the team and the stakeholders fully involved.

You have a good understanding of the real user needs behind your service. For example, “I need to get access to my child, and I need to be able to afford to do that in court”.

We were particularly impressed by your diagram showing all your research participants mapped onto the Digital Inclusion scale. Users referred by recruitment agencies all had good digital skills, whereas users referred by charities had much more variable levels of digital skill, including many with very low digital skill. Many others in government could learn from this finding. You should blog about it.

Your service design is excellent

You’ve built a good transaction, but more importantly, you’ve built a good service. You’ve chosen which bits to focus on carefully.

We were impressed with your diagram showing *Help with fees *as a component in divorce, N244/245 and County court proceedings. It showed that you understand your transaction in context.

You chose to build a standalone transaction (instead of an integration with Make a claim to an employment tribunal) based on data about how many users would see an improvement.

You weighed the cost of checking income evidence against the risk of not checking it and came up with the pragmatic solution of spot-checking. Using the DWP API and asking court staff to fill in the court/tribunal fee also seem sensible choices. We’d like to thank our colleagues at HMCTS for making pragmatic policy.

Your team processes are excellent

The service manager is fully engaged with all the team members.

We were particularly impressed with your internal wiki. It showed each page in the transaction, screenshots for every iteration of that page, findings from each round of research and a link to the research transcripts. We thought that this level of documentation was exactly right. Again, many others in government could learn from – you should blog about this.

We were also impressed with your commitment to sharing your work. You’ve written several useful blog posts. You gave detailed and informative presentations at cross-government design meeting.



  • Rename your service Help with court and tribunal fees. Government charges fees for many things. Help with fees is not specific enough.

  • Remove uncertain language. For example, on your start page it says ‘If your situation is different, you may still be eligible to apply’. This doesn’t help me decide whether to apply or not


  • You’ve set your date input fields as type=”number”. Take a look at govuk-elements to see how you can use this attribute in a more sophisticated way

  • For the payment date, it may be appropriate to use a date picker instead. html5 provides a good one, as long as it works whether you have javascript enabled or not

  • Ask for a user’s full name, no title – read our guidance about names

  • Send users a confirmation email or text message by default. Do research and interaction design to figure out the best way to ask for the requisite email address or mobile number (and let us know what you find out!)

  • Test further iterations of your confirmation page to make it clearer that the person isn’t done yet

Published 28 March 2017