We help government add a human touch to communicating about novel coronavirus

Introduction
We help government add a human touch to communicating about novel coronavirus

Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak in Slovakia, the National Health Information Centre (NHIC) published guidelines for citizens and health professionals on the korona.gov.sk domain. As the number of cases continued to rise, a lot of information was added to the website, which were often categorized by the relevant department or published directly on the homepage. The website lacked trustworthiness and turned into a helter-skelter information point for citizens. Soon, Slovak government decided that korona.gov.sk will become a central source of information about the novel coronavirus. The website had to be redesigned within only three weeks. How to rebuild a website struck by typical issues such as chaotic structure, incomprehensible language and complexity and still meet such a tight deadline?

Cooperation of government, IT experts and volunteers

At Lighting Beetle we believed this was our opportunity to show that our engagement plays a big role. Under the patronage of the permanent crisis staff, we set up a working group (complete list of team members) consisting of activists from the slovensko.help community, officers from the Ministry of investment, regional development and informatization and National Agency for Network and Electronic Services.

The contribution of Lighting Beetle in the initial phase consisted of setting up a structure and approach to this task. The working group was swiftly transformed into a small agile team following regular team rituals and common planning steps. Our key points consisted of job prioritization and collaboration. We directed our team focus only to elements with highest impact and we kept revising our to-do-list according to the constantly changing situation. We linked the work of developers, copywriters, visual designers and UX designers with the help of the design tool Figma, so every participant could follow the development process live.

Development with a unified e-government design manual

As members of the Slovak UX Association we have been engaged in creating the unified design manual of Slovak e-gov services (ID-SK) since 2018. During our collaboration on this tool we applied our invaluable knowledge gained from creating design systems for the insurance company Dôvera and the telecommunication company Orange Slovensko.

The joint team introduced the core of a new design during the first week of our cooperation. The ID-SK tool showed itself to be very essential for an efficient work process. Designers only had to arrange individual elements of the design system according to their importance for citizens.

However, we worked most hard on the text creation. ID-SK has contributed to a unified and credible design, but since our goal was to present a new way of government communication with citizens, we had to direct our focus on the website copy. Our team of copywriters spent hours on conference calls with Slovak government officials trying to pursue a clear, yet all-embracing communication style.

A copybook example despite crisis

We managed the website only for a couple of weeks. Soon it fell under the authority of experts from the department of Behavioral Innovation and Research Slovakia (BRISK). This way, the responsibility and management of the whole project shifted towards the government and that is as it should be.

Sustainability of our work is a key benchmark for Lighting Beetle*. The website still serves as a central source of information about the novel coronavirus and is, without doubt, one of the best Slovak government websites boasting an exceptional UX design. There was no need to redesign the website navigation to this day. It has proven to have a flexible design, easy scalability and high resistance to an ever-changing environment. The website copy still shows a high level of consistency and reflects the original tone of communication. Thanks to correctly defined content standards the copy is clear, comprehensible, friendly and all-embracing.

The korona.gov.sk website has been an inspiration and example of a proper government communication with citizens. We have already started working on the ID-SK development and creation of legislation assuring the use of outcomes of this project when building all other government websites.

Key insights:
1. Design system speeds up the work of the agile team by 50%.
2. It’s possible to use a collaborative approach even in a complex environment, you just need to set certain team guidelines and stick to them.
3. Properly set UX guidelines contribute to long-term consistency even when the original team members stop working on the project.
Author

Michal Blažej

Usability expert and NN/g UX certificate holder co-founded and runs the UX studio LB *. Together with 40 colleagues, he helps globally important companies create understandable products and services.

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