Connecting state and local government leaders

The Necessity of Creating Fictitious People to Improve Digital Government

Georgia's chief digital officer, Nikhil J. Deshpande, speaks during a breakout session at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers annual conference last week in Austin, Texas.

Georgia's chief digital officer, Nikhil J. Deshpande, speaks during a breakout session at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers annual conference last week in Austin, Texas. Michael Grass / Route Fifty

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

“When we say as a state, ‘who are our users?,’ we have to segment users out,” according to Georgia’s chief digital officer.

AUSTIN, Texas — Often in public-sector organizations, creating fictitious people might suggest something nefarious is going on or someone is trying to take advantage of a lax bureaucracy.

But in the world of citizen-centric design, agency leaders should encourage teams to create fake people—or personas based on real users—to think about how to best create a website, application or digital tool for the user.

“When we say as a state, 'who are our users?,’ we have to segment users out,” Nikhil J. Deshpande, who is Georgia’s chief digital officer, said last week at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers annual conference in Texas’ capital city.

During a breakout session focused on experience-as-service in his state, Deshpande discussed the importance of “journey mapping” in the design process.

“Put that persona in context: Every persona has a goal. The way they go from Point A to Point B is a scenario,” said Deshpande. “Once we know who are our personas are, it’s key to understanding their journey.”

That includes building in “stress cases” and other interactions—or “touchpoints”—that help map out how a user might navigate a website, application or digital tool, deal with challenges they may encounter in the process and find paths to a solution.

“This is how we can reduce friction” in service delivery for the user, he said. And in the end, that creates a better citizen experience.

“Experience design truly means business,” Deshpande said. “We end up being way more effective.”

RELATED on Route Fifty: Full coverage of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers annual conference in Austin, Texas.

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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