20.Jan 2021

Tough questions – smart answers? And what we learned along the way

“smartask” allows citizens to share their questions, concerns or ideas directly with national parliamentarians. It aims to enable the interaction between citizens and law makers and hence to encourage political participation. In the process of developing such a platform we learned that there is no such thing as failure, as long as you adapt your approach and try again.

So far so good

Before we started prototyping we conducted interviews with three parliamentarians. As they are part of one of our two main target groups, it was important for us to get early feedback and inputs from them. As useful as these interviews were, they also presented the first challenge: to get appointments within the set timeline. As soon as your next steps depend on previous ones, your timeline can easily be blown up. The same lesson applies to user-testing. It is a constant tradeoff between speed and accuracy and we had to learn to find the right balance. For the interviews this meant that although we could not conduct the number we had planned, we still received some qualitative feedback which allowed us to  proceed with confidence. 

…key learning: “Dream big. Start small. But most of all, start.”

Simon Sinek

Part time gives us a hard time

The project team is a joint venture between Politools (Political Research Network) and Liip AG. People from various backgrounds, different places and with diverse work schedules come together for weekly meetings. The common denominator is that most of us work part time – which turned out to be the next challenge: what’s done today can sometimes only be reviewed tomorrow and if necessary changed the day after tomorrow. The fact that everything happens virtually these days makes it somewhat easier, which allowed the following solution: Daily and very short morning-meetings during IT sprint sessions help to quickly exchange on what everyone is planning to work on that day and to ask questions to whoever is available. This guarantees the flow of information and keeps the motivation high.

…key learning: “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand meetings

Tom & David Kelley, IDEO

Prototype vs. MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

Since prototyping started in September, ideas have turned into tangible forms. User experience constantly improves, design concepts are refined and more features are implemented. At the end of the day you find yourself pondering over whether a button should be dark yellow or rather pastel. It happens quite often that we lose ourselves in such details instead of putting these resources into other, more important aspects of the tool. Therefore, we have to remind ourselves from time to time that it is all about the minimum viable product and that our primary goal is a functional prototype – not the final product (yet). 😉

…key learning: “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler

by Albert Einstein

In these first few months we did a lot of brainstorming, we created things, changed them later on, re-evaluated certain steps and skipped others. Critical reflection is important and sometimes we have to be brave enough to reject certain ideas as well as open enough to accept new ones. This might sound exhausting, but it really isn’t – as long as you stick to the time frame to stay on track. And don’t forget to have fun along the way!