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Learning through prototyping: tools for Universal Credit claimants

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: Universal Credit

We’ve been looking at some new ways of helping claimants and our operational staff to visualise looking for work in new ways. There are lots of variables to take into account when finding work. Things like:

• understanding the type of job you could do

• understanding what sort of jobs are available in different locations

• finding a job that matches your skills

• understanding what qualifications are required

• reflecting on your own work history and skills

• keeping track what jobs you have applied for

In the past 3 months a small team of developers, designers and policy professionals from the Universal Credit Digital Service design team have been exploring what digital tools could help claimants and work coaches understand some of these things better.

Just like our colleagues across DWP have been doing with the Personal Independence Payment and the Pensions Tracing Service, we have been learning about what works and what doesn't through prototyping and then testing different applications with real users (in this case, Universal Credit claimants and work coaches).

Paper ideas would not be enough for this, but equally we don’t want to build production software that we might find out isn’t useful after a couple of sessions.

These have been really useful constraints to work within. It has also helped us learn about the constraints of labour market and job vacancy data (which deserves a blog post of its own).

Here are a few of the tools that we have built and what we have learnt:

Understand where you could travel for work

UC prototype screen on a mobile phoneThis tool displays a map showing the travel-time, on public transport, from home to work. This has helped claimants and work coaches visualise what it really means to travel 30, 60 or 90 minutes and proved a useful trigger for job search conversations.

Discover what type of jobs you can do

UC prototype screen on a mobile phoneA claimant can enter some skills or job titles and this tool will give them related job titles, skills. This can help with understanding what to search for online or what qualifications are required for certain types of job.


Discover jobs to apply for

UC prototype screen on a mobile phone

There are lots of job boards that let users search for a specific job title and location. We wanted to experiment with a radically different user interface which shows a random job one at a time. There are some indications that this sort of interface can help to broaden understanding of what jobs are out there.

Share your work history with your work coach

UC prototype screen on a mobile phoneWe observed a lot of conversations between a work coach and a claimant that revolved around understanding a claimant’s circumstances. We built a couple of variants of this tool to try and support that conversation by asking a claimant to quickly describe their work history. Whilst it proved potentially useful, we didn't get the interaction design 100% right and it needs more work.

Tell your work coach about the jobs you have applied for

We have also begun to explore how we can follow people’s existing job-seeking behaviour to make it more straightforward for them to bring together the jobs they are applying for and then share them with their work coach via their online Universal Credit account.

Designing the Universal Credit digital service in this way, by building working prototypes and testing them with real users, is how we will understand what works, what doesn't and how we can transform the service we offer to our claimants.

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  1. Comment by Liz posted on

    WOW! this is great, and will be really useful for people looking for work.

  2. Comment by Ian Franklin posted on

    Very interesting stuff. I worked on the first job search website in 1999 and 2000 an helped design the JobCentre kiosks - hardware and software. Just wandering how you are using the digital tools to get job seekers to think about transferable skills? This was always a big issue in that job seekers and often staff would have a very narrow view and not explore how skills were transferable to other industries. Example I cam across was marine engineers who specialised in electricity generators all left the merchant navy and went to work in IT centres keeping the generators going 24 hours a day. Exploring transferable skills was always more of a psychological barrier.

    • Replies to Ian Franklin>

      Comment by Jacquie Doyle posted on

      Hi Ian – interesting point. Not only are we are working closely with claimants to design tools that will help people into work but with colleagues too. We are looking at the best way to undertake skills transfer to help colleagues support claimants in their work journey. Hopefully I will have more to say on this in future blogs so keep checking back – JD

  3. Comment by Tim Leighton-Boyce posted on

    It strikes me that the first three would also be useful for anyone looking for a new job. Not just claimants.