In 2006, the City Manager, along with the Innovation Office, conducted an open call to the organization for project ideas from employees that advanced one, or more, of the City of Austin’s priorities
- Best Managed: increasing productivity, efficiency, and cost -savings within the City government
- Most Livable: contributing to the goals of Imagine Austin, the City’s comprehensive plan to address Austin’s most pressing issues
- Service with Pride: projects that improve the citizen’s customer experience
- Open Government: enhancing transparency, accountability, civic participation, and use of open data.
I submitted an idea that was inspired by Chicago’s Civic User Testing (CUT) Group, a community of residents in Chicago who are paid to test websites and apps to help create better technology. My goal was to create something that would equip City staff with tools for improving Austinites’ experience with City services (digital and in-person). Incorporating leading industry practices, the Toolbox would include best practices for usability, accessibility, and user testing, test methods for recruiting participants, plans for City employees to participate in small-scale tests, and tools needed to perform testing.
My project was chosen as one of the selected projects and I was given funding to have several Innovation Fellows assist in building out one main part of my original project idea: A User-Centered Design Playbook focused on User Testing to help City staff in this area.
The steps taken to get to the playbook involved a survey sent out to all City employees to understand what kind of user testing (if any) they were currently doing (overview of survey results), personas to help understand who would be using this playbook, an audit of internal guidebooks used within the City, and an audit of user testing related resources.