An overlooked key to designing services people love

We’re entering a new era of work that will drive all of us to become more adaptable, creative and connected. The rapid pace of change we’ll experience over the course of our lifetimes will require lifelong learning journeys. Our education and training systems must evolve along with our economy and technology to equip people with the mindset, knowledge, skills and tools to enable people to thrive now and in the future.

The work we choose to do—and are equipped to do—impacts everything. It affects who we are as individuals: our opportunities, quality of life and feelings of meaningful contribution. It also affects the people around us via our contribution to the community and broader economy.

The Government engaged Huddle to help

To help support people to thrive now and in the future, the Department of Education and Training engaged Huddle to define how the Victorian Government can best support people to plan their careers and make decisions about employment, training and education.

Over the five month project, we took a human-centred design (HCD) approach, working closely with people across the system including a diverse set of learners, training providers, career practitioners and key stakeholders across the public sector. Together, we explored the current vocational education and training system and co-designed a new service vision for the Government.

Our research and design started with people and ended with innovative solutions tailored to meet their needs. When you truly understand the people you’re trying to reach and design from their perspective, not only do you arrive with unexpected answers, but you come up with solutions they will embrace.

When designing services, remember this: engaging people at the extreme ends of a spectrum can greatly affect the success of your design, here’s why

As human-centred designers it’s vital that we uncover and address the perspectives, needs and desires of those we are designing for. For some services—especially public services like education—your prospective customer base can be nearly universal. 

You might be thinking, how can I meaningfully engage representatives from the entire population? 
It would be easy to follow the ‘80/20 rule’ and only engage people representing the majority of the population, ensuring that your resulting service would at least resonate with the majority of your customer base. However this would mean you would not hear important voices and perspectives than can make your solutions more impactful.

Conscious of this, we made sure to design for inclusivity and that we heard from everyone who works in the system. Over the course of our project, we deliberately engaged people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This included training providers, employers, career practitioners and learners. The learners were our most vital group. We needed to ensure that we spoke to people with various contexts and needs. We worked with people looking for new training, currently in training and those who had recently finished their training.

Our first engagements took place solely in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia. The resulting first draft of our service vision set forward a service experience that leveraged digital channels end-to-end. This resulting service vision strongly resonated with the learners we engaged within the city.
We then took storyboards of the service vision to a regional area currently experiencing mass redundancies and significant economic change for further testing. While we sought to work with a diverse group of people in the city, we found the learners we engaged outside the city had much lower digital literacy and found our draft service vision intimidating due to it reliance on digital channels. 

This insight led to important changes to our final designs. We had to ensure that our final designs better supported these people by including more traditional channels (like phone and face-to-face). 

No matter what experience you’re designing for, there is significant value in engaging people at the extremes of a spectrum—in this case, digital literacy. 

By testing your design with people at the extremes of an experience spectrum critical gaps in your design can be quickly uncovered and addressed, better ensuring you design great services that work for everyone. 

About the project

What we learnt from our research—the Australian vocational education and training system is complex and struggling to meet the needs and aspirations of the people who would benefit from it most (i.e. retrenched workers, people returning to work from extended leave, and those who are under-employed).
Solutions that emerged from research & collaborative ideation—we discovered that the most impactful way to improve how people experience the current vocational education and training system is to provide students and potential students access to high-quality career guidance and advice.
Career guidance is a critical component of lifelong learning and essential in contemporary education and training systems. 
It supports people to better understand themselves—their values, strengths, and weaknesses—and enable them to actively manage their careers and successfully plan for their future, regardless of their age or life stage. Career guidance is both a public and individual good, offering individuals and societies a mechanism for change.
The final product: our co-designed service vision—we co-designed a Service Blueprint and Implementation Guide for a lifelong career guidance system accessible by all Victorians. This service vision detailed how the Government and its partners could bring the service to life over the short, medium and long-term.
This service vision represents a more intensive and deliberate role for the Government in supporting Victorians across their lifelong learning journeys; better enabling them to plan their careers, make more informed decisions about their education and training, and thrive into the future. 

Share this article