With the fervent push for Singapore to become a “Smart Nation”, many government agencies are heeding the call to harness technology and user-centered design thinking process to improve urban living. Government agencies such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) are starting to set up technology research and innovation labs, aiming to “create new opportunities and improve people’s lives”.
At the forefront of the movement is Singapore’s Government Digital Services (GDS) that is headquartered in the newly launched 13,000 sq ft creative space, IDA Hive, equipped with a Tobii Pro X2-30 screen-based eye tracker. GDS has been in operation for more than 2 years, and the team has developed and launched several apps such as the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s myResponder, the Ministry of National Development’s OneService, Department of Statistics Singapore’s SingStat, as well as the mobile app for the demand-driven, shared transit experiment, Beeline.
GDS also provides consultancy services for other government agencies in developing or enhancing a digital service. For instance, Design Experience lab is a research facility in IDA Hive, where end users are brought in to test the digital service. The objective behind directly studying how users physically interact with the digital services is to better understand the needs and pain points experienced by users. This user-centered approach to design not only provides improvements for the product/services in development, but also insights into experience design for future product/services.
GDS recently engaged Objective Experience in a couple of such usability testing sessions for a new iteration of the IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore)’s website with the use of Tobii Pro X2-30 screen-based eye tracker. With the eye trackers, researchers are able to see exactly at which touch points users are having troubles with, and which elements are capturing or not capturing users’ attention. Coupled with the Retrospective Think Aloud (RTA) research methodology where users are interviewed with the cue of the eye tracking video, researchers are able to obtain more reliable accounts of what users are experiencing while interacting with the product/services. This method reduces the risk of fabrications as well as research bias.
Improvement to the IRAS website were made after one round of usability testing, and were validated with the next. GDS was very receptive to the user-centered design process, and quite a number of recommendations from the first round of testing were implemented. GDS was fervently concerned with making the IRAS website more user friendly for the wider audience (individual, companies, younger and older tax filers alike), and the overall result from the several rounds of usability testing certainly reflects that. For instance, GDS understands the prevalence of mobile computing, and put much attention into redesigning the mobile version of the website. In all, the project saw more favourable feedbacks from end users.
— Claire FoulquierG (@_cmfg) May 5, 2016
Objective Experience has also collaborated with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on several usability testing projects with eye tracking for print collaterals as well as for their website, and the research had certainly led to design reiterations with improved user experience.
With the newly found support for user-centered design process and digital innovation from the Singapore government, the UX community is poised to get bigger and better. And if the UX community gets bigger and better with the support from the government, you know our quality of life is definitely improving.