Next generation digital in Government – informed by result areas.



In a recent post we suggested Government digital interactions and experiences are changing. In this post we consider the Governments result areas and review the recent launch of the most highly used Government site – the Visa Application Gateway for Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

In the course of this project we were forced to consider;

  • How user centred organisational design/thinking is changing
  • Why Interactions need to focus on bringing the ‘action' up in the process/journey
  • Why experiences need to be about doing things, here and now.

Pressure to Improve

 In the next few years INZ expect inbound migration volumes to continue to rise. Their strategy is to reduce reliance on call centres, thereby reducing costs – and to improve the user experience in digital as it grows to become their prime interface. This new gateway represents a leap forward for INZ in the way they engage with users online. INZ tasked us with helping them to understand their customers and through their website enable customers to explore, compare and select the right visa for their situation, enabling a better fit and smoother journey to application itself. 
The biggest Public Sector site

The Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website is one of the most visited websites in New Zealand: It’s one of the largest Government agency websites, with over 32,000 unique visits each day and over 12 million visits in the past year alone. Visitors to the website come from across the world to apply for a visa or find out more about visiting or migrating to New Zealand. As a country, economic growth is tightly linked to population and skills growth, therefore improving the migration intake and ensuring we compete for talent and investment in our region is essential. 
Public Sector result areas

New Zealand has public sector targets and result areas that are aimed at delivering better public services to businesses and citizens. These are directing innovation, digital uptake, cross channel service experience and investment, all seeking to make the public sector more efficient, effective and able to deliver a better citizen experience. 
Two of these in particular informed the project, Result Area 9; A one-stop online shop for all government advice and support New Zealand businesses need to run and grow their business.; and Result Area 10; A digital environment New Zealanders can complete their transactions with the Government easily in.  

Within the result areas, Immigration New Zealand sought to simplify visa selection to streamline application, drive self service to improve customer experience, improve completion rates and reduce call centre and over counter use and costs. 
Collaborative is possible

When working with Public sector organisations, project bounds are normally tightly set, and rigidly adhered to. Even when you discover how or what may make the final outcome better, project constraints and business expectations on the solution shape mean that even change for the better may not be possible. An inability to reset for a better outcome can hamper great insight being harnessed and applied, restrict the agility of a project itself, and constrain innovation. Fortunately in the INZ project, these barriers were able to be overcome. 

Iteration is essential

In the INZ Visa Gateway project the focus and scope evolved significantly throughout. We had to work together as a single team with INZ to navigate the ever increasing complexity and continually adjust our approach, tasks and thinking to continue working towards our shared goal of providing users with a immersive experience that felt relevant. 
Make the complex simple

At the outset, Immigration New Zealand had 4 separate websites, which performed different roles within the life cycle of attracting migrants, providing visa information and settlement. What originally started out as a fairly defined brief to undertake user research and apply the insights gained to bring 3 of the 4 websites together into a single INZ visa gateway, turned into a much larger and more complex service design project. One of the key challenges on this project was the complexity within the New Zealand visa system. 
There are hundreds of variations available and the user research showed that many customers never felt like they reached a point where they were certain they had found the right visa for them. Another theme that emerged from the research was that customers have a clear motivation when looking at coming to New Zealand and lifestyle played a big part in many peoples decision to choose New Zealand over another country. These insights, together with many others lead to an approach that aimed to help remove complexity from users and build an experience based around those motivations where users would be able to explore, compare and select the right visa for their situation. 
Change is good

Through the life of the project DNA helped INZ to redefine their online service offering, make sense of the complex systems and make them relevant for customers, restructure their information architecture, create business rules that would support a customer centred experience, develop content, guidelines and data models, as well as deliver a completely new model for interaction.
This project has been hugely beneficial and transformative for both INZ and DNA. It's uncovered new approaches, new ways of thinking and new possibilities. 
In the next post in this series, we’ll be looking at; 

  • How content led approaches will lead solutions and inform design
  • How users be need to be better enabled to self-determine and self-serve
  • Why we think  that 'Mobile everything' is truly the new baseline
  • How simple UX will hide the true complexity a business may need to build
  • Why ROI for users is as important as ROI for a business/organisation.

The first release of the INZ Gateway has taken place, but further releases are to follow, which will enhance various areas of the experience to deliver fully to the intended design.