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Co-designing a self-service vision to support people in need

Through co-creation, we defined a vision for a self-service tool that MSD’s clients would want to use, while transforming its business with tools and processes to become more human-centred.
example of a phone app screen
Every year over 1.2 million New Zealanders receive support from The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) through their service delivery groups - Work and Income (WINZ), StudyLink and Senior Services.

MSD has a multi-year initiative to simplify their service delivery to reduce the effort devoted to transactional interactions, enabling staff to focus on outcomes and empower clients with a greater sense of control.

Helping achieve this, DAN collaborated with MSD, Deloitte and WINZ clients to co-design a mobile-focused self-service tool. We used the opportunity to enable MSD to own both the human-centred design process and the resulting strategy - setting their team up for long-term success.

Uncovering opportunities for a self-service tool

Together with the MSD team, we led co-design workshops with a cross-section of WINZ clients to understand their context, map existing service experiences, and establish functional priorities.

The key workshop activity was a collaborative design activity in which pairs (made up of a WINZ client and a project team member) developed a paper prototype of a “Magic Tool'' that would enable clients to manage their relationship with WINZ on their mobile.

Co-design with clients was central to the development of MSD's future vision for mobile self-service
Co-design with clients was central to the development of MSD's future vision for mobile self-service.

Prioritising features for maximum impact

We synthesised observed client barriers from the workshops into guiding principles, identified what they valued most - time saved, transparency and accountability - and established a core purpose: “My Mobile MSD: A tool that helps me to come into the WINZ office less.” This purpose was a direct user quote, embodying how they’d recommend it to other WINZ clients.

Interview worksheets enabled us to quickly gauge audiences’ digital context and map existing experiences
Interview worksheets enabled us to quickly gauge audiences’ digital context and map existing experiences.

We also uncovered important considerations for each proposed feature and assessed its value against a set of design criteria (including frequency, uptake, cost-effectiveness and time reduction). These informed the development of a feature roadmap that would enable quick delivery, drive client adoption and allow for valuable enhancement over time.

Validating a mobile-first experience

Visualising this future experience in the form of a digital prototype, we conducted design testing with a diverse range of participants - including recently arrived refugees, long-term clients, and people with less access to technology.

“Magic Tools” developed by WINZ Clients within the co-design workshops
“Magic Tools” developed by WINZ Clients within the co-design workshops.

Iterating over two rounds of testing, the MSD and DAN team observed sessions together, collaborating to synthesise notes into prioritised fixes and features. We gained invaluable insight into language, mental models, how participants naturally navigated when using mobile, and moments that delivered real delight.

Driving human-centred change

The project delivered a compelling human-centred vision for a WINZ client experience, enabling a strong business case to be developed. The vision prototype provided a tangible expression of the future mobile experience that could be experienced by stakeholders right through to the Chief Executive and Ministerial level.

DAN also delivered a comprehensive induction into co-design practices for the joint MSD and Deloitte team. MSD learned that involving users in the process makes it easier to create delightful experiences.

“Actually having MSD people involved, and stakeholders see, hear and experience the process – helping clients share their voice, thoughts and feelings – has been so valuable. It raised a level of passion about the initiative and now we have more people advocating for better client experience taking this back to their teams to share.”

-Julia McConnell, Design Practice Leader, MSD