Last reviewed: 02 March 2021Help us improve this content
This page gives you a basic overview of these terms and signposts to collections of resources where you can learn more.
When you take a user-led design approach to digital development, you'll see lots of advice telling you 'start small and test often'.
The aim is to avoid failed projects, and wasted time and money.
The process starts with learning.
Next you can build something to meet those high priority needs.
Your aim is to build the smallest and most efficient thing to see if you're right about whether your solution really meets the needs.
Consider these questions.
Only build a new digital tool from scratch when you know it's the most efficient way to create what you need to test.
Now you’re ready to test the solution you have built.
Taking a usability testing approach will help. This means the following.
Want to know more about the benefits of this approach? Read this blog about designing iteratively (another name for test and learn).
Usability testing doesn't have to be an expensive process. There are more sophisticated options for larger budgets including testing laboratories. But you can learn a lot from a series of short Zoom calls with just three to five people.
The main differences between more traditional ways of getting feedback on a digital tool or project are that you:
Clearer Heads is a mental health charity. They’ve recently begun delivering a virtual counselling service and wanted to improve it. Their research had told them people found it frustrating to have to phone up or email to book. They wanted to do it online.
The team decided to use Survey Monkey to build an online sign-up form and put that on their website to test for two weeks. But before they put it up to test they did calls with three people who'd used the service to see if they could use it.
They heard sounds of disappointment as they looked at the form. When they asked 'What is disappointing?' the people said 'I want to see which appointment slots are available'. Clearer Heads understood more detail about what people wanted to be able to do when online booking.
Agile development is a software development process that suits a test and learn or iterative design approach. It means you can start working with developers without having a full list of requirements for software features.
Instead you work together to understand what the people you want to help really need and prioritise the best way of meeting those needs.
Agile development fits really well with an approach that wants to experiment and get things right for the people you work with. It’s the best way to plan new digital services.
Find out more about agile:
This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 02 March 2021
Understand your strengths and weaknesses in service design, and set goals
Get the basics on data and insight and why they matter to charities, organisations and community groups
Find out if you're doing everything you should be to make sure your websites and digital services are accessible
How to apply for grant funding for digital and technology costs
How to better include the people you work with and for in your organisation's digital work
Sign up for emails
Get regular updates on NCVO's help, support and services