Users at the Centre

By Nasubo Ongoma
  Published 24 Apr 2018
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If Amazon or Google sets the standard for ease of use, that is what [people] expect everywhere – in all categories.”

Jerry (Yoram) Wind

I stumbled upon this quote here and it got me thinking, is this the user experience (UX), standard users expect in product delivery and if so, are our products at par? The article points out the importance of great user experience especially for organisations that want to maintain relevance in the digital economy.

The last blogpost took a deep dive into the building blocks for a great e-gov platform and one of the key features was a responsive and knowledgeable user. A user is anyone who interacts with a system, in this case, citizens, residents and employees. Our finding was that most users are not very confident and are “afraid” of using the systems (iTax, eCitizen..) and as a result they use intermediaries (Huduma Centres and cyber cafes). Is this a result of inadequate UX?

Using the above as a hypothesis, we sought to test it by carrying out a design sprint (in collaboration with iHub Consulting) with government representatives, software developers and citizens to 1) design a simple and inclusive platform and 2) develop best practises for designing user centric websites. The working objective is to redesign iTax, the KRA tax returns portal.

For a successful sprint, you require a great team, people with diverse expertise during the problem definition and mapping. Below is the breakdown of our team,

  1. KRA team with members from the innovation and iTax departments, to aid in demystifying iTax and the tax laws.
  2. iHub Researchers, to give background to the problem at hand and insights on the users, in our case citizens.
  3. Accounting experts, someone with a deep understanding of the process of tax returns in Kenya. We invited Michael from Uhasibu and Payroll.
  4. Localisation expert, someone with experience adapting and translating a digital product to a specific country or region. Bonface was our lead in this.
  5. Representative of persons with disabilities, we invited Johnson Kitetu from the Kenya Society for the Blind (KSB) to identify challenges people living with disabilities face. The Constitution of Kenya (2010) promotes and protects the diversity of language even for persons with disabilities. People often talk about inclusive products, however, persons with disabilities are often overlooked.
  6. The iHub Consulting Team to facilitate the sprint, design and develop the tax returns site.
  7. Testers, these are actual iTax users who will test the prototype and give feedback.

We spent 5 days together breaking down demystify iTax, the journey was demanding but worthwhile, with an end product, dubbed easyTax (tax returns in 3 easy steps). Kirui shall give the daily breakdown on the sprint, stay tuned for this.

Going back to the quote above, there is no excuse for bad UX, design with the users in mind and you will not go wrong. User experience is a mindset that should be incorporated to design better systems that enables timely delivery of information and encourage participation of users through feedback and analysis of performance. There should be a deliberate effort to make platforms adaptable and easier to use through iterative changes and improvements. When this is effected, users feel more appreciated in that their feedback is accepted. We hope that showcasing the simplification of a complex service will result in adoption by all stakeholders and ensure that users are at the heart of e-gov services.

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