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UX In Public Services Hero

Looking To Social Media For A Blueprint In Developing Effective UX In Public Services

Friday, 16 April 2021

In this article, we explore how digital governments can look to social media for UX blueprints.

Rewind to when you first signed up to Facebook, or Instagram; can you remember who trained you to use it? The chances are, nobody did.

Social media giants have invested heavily in perfecting the user experience (UX), helping make navigation as simple as possible. Beyond easy navigation, social platforms are designed in a way to make our overall experience gratifying, and perhaps worryingly for some, addictive. Have you ever felt uplifted when you receive a notification that a friend’s liked one of your posts?


In the UK there are 45m active social media users. 

— Source: Statista

In the world of social media, screen time and engagement help the likes of Facebook and Instagram sell advertising space, where businesses plunge millions of pounds in to positioning their products and services in front of your nose. Perfecting the UX is a critical part of their business strategies, which is why public sector bodies should be looking to them when designing digital government platforms.

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By mimicking the features we are already accustomed to, governments can harness that familiarity in to delivering an experience that requires zero training, enabling adoption and usage from launch.

By pairing functionality with an effective UX, organisations stand to gain on two fronts. Frictionless self-service for citizens, as well making key savings on time, and of course the cost associated with inefficiencies.

Easy to follow and understand menus, newsfeeds, and notification centres all feature heavily on social platforms. There’s no need for digital government to be any different.

Adopting key features and integrating them into the user-interface can help case workers manage their workloads and improve productivity. Tasks of high importance can be placed at the top of the feed, in an order defined by organisations, such as by due date or seniority. Algorithms help place an emphasis on elements prioritised by organisations, helping case workers focus on the most important matters at hand. This can be used in conjunction with notifications and alerts, again helping cases run as smoothly as possible, benefiting both case workers and citizens.

Social platforms also excel at mobile UX. Nearly 80% of Facebook users access the platform via mobile, which has led to future design and development teams leading with a ‘mobile first’ approach. Recognising the changing habits of your audience and developing solutions around these are key. Mobile saturation of digital services whilst increasing year on year, still find themselves far off the levels of Facebook, however the upwards trend towards mobile means it should be front and centre when designing future services. Mobile also takes on an increasingly important role, due to smartphone adoption service providers can reach more people than ever before, including the most vulnerable in society. 

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to developing digital services. Maximising our experience of the existing digital eco-system can help form solutions, and when it comes to the heavily researched and tested user-experience of social media, our public organisations and third-party vendors alike should be looking to them for guidance, where they can help deliver services that again hark back to core aspects of UX, accessibility, logical usage and hassle-free service.