In the first few days we built a prototype to report non-emergency repairs, mapped to “schedule of rates” codes, which are used to cost the repair and assign a trade operative.
It was vital to build a service that could be used by people with a range of accessibility needs and digital skills. So, after a round of testing with the team, we opened up the prototype for user research, which highlighted lots of ways to improve the prototype.
We removed pictures and icons from the interface and instead used simple language, as this made it easier for more people to use, and included the ability to upload a photo to help accurate reporting. We made sure people could choose half-day appointment slots, so they wouldn’t have to stay home all day. The service was iteratively developed based on feedback from residents, collaborators and supporters across City of Lincoln Council and other councils, who engaged with us at our regular show and shares.
Our engineers built the service using the GOV.UK Design System within the Microsoft Azure Cloud, which can integrate with the on-prem housing management and scheduling systems. It was designed to be high-performing, scalable, and secure while using reusable resources and components wherever possible. These included GOV.UK Notify to send notifications to both council teams and residents, and open, scalable and accessible APIs. The handling of personal data was kept to a bare minimum.
All the code is published on GitHub, and the project team has worked in the open throughout the project, including the project blog.