Turning policy into a service

For this project, dxw worked with a small team of policy experts in BEIS, who are responsible for implementing several policies that came out of the Enterprise Act of 2016. We were therefore tasked with translating a piece of legislation into a service that meets both users’ needs and ministerial objectives.

We did this by forming a single multi-disciplinary team with BEIS and having policy experts, design, research, content and product people working closely together. To support our user research and content writing, we also formed relationships with legal experts, subject matter experts and industry bodies.

Understanding users’ needs

We started the project at discovery, where we uncovered that many small businesses who haven’t been paid on time don’t know where to go for help or who to contact. There’s lots of organisations that already provide advice and services in this area, but it’s difficult to navigate.

Users perceive their options for getting paid as either writing off the debt or taking the client to court, and aren’t aware of other action they can take. We, therefore, wanted to give small businesses trusted, actionable advice that helps them understand the options available to them. During our user research throughout discovery and alpha we also wanted to understand users’ expectations for the Small Business Commissioner, which offers a complaint service.

Building a live service

Over a ten-week alpha, we built and iterated several prototypes for the Small Business Commissioner website. We continuously improved the design and content by carrying out regular research and testing with small businesses from a range of industries across the UK. We were able to start structuring the content in a way that made sense to users and their business processes and make decisions about where to signpost users to other advice and information. By working closely with subject matter experts on the content, we were able to reduce the options presented to users and make them feel less overwhelmed at the prospect of chasing a late payment or escalating further.

In beta, we started building a working version of the website in WordPress. Over eight weeks we kept iterating and testing the website with users to fine-tune the content and design. With the Small Business Commissioner now established and the office in place, the service will soon be in a position to go live.