Code for America lessons for user experience

03 Mar

Giselle Sperber (@_giselles) described an office routine which included 1 hour each day of open office, held at a nearby cafe, in order to gather ideas from their website users.

Giselle is a user experience designer who defines her user experience work as a community engagement tool.  You can answer questions and get to understand the hurdles that your users are faced with.  You need a PC, a gathering place, and someone to work with.  For example, in a library, get a librarian to help you.  You can use a range of devices and software to record sessions, or just a notebook will do as well.  All this will help you “think like a passenger” (See:  Do it once a month!  Use it to improve forms!

Code for America relies on government, community developers and third party suppliers to implement code or data based projects for community benefit.  To get a project off the ground, you need 1) open data, 2) working together, 3) reliance on standards (so that it works).

Open Data

You need to be able to access your data source, and this might require the data owner to make it available – or open for access.

Working Together

You need to achieve collaboration between different sectors such as different sources of data.  Different resources and expertise will be required to deliver the project, and they all need to be involved.  Working together means that you can ensure the involvement that you need, and share your success too.  You need developers and designers involved.

Standards Reliant

Making sure that your project will work for end users and for the platform you need.  For example, getting data into the format for bus timetables would mean that you have to use the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS).  Data cleaning will be required.

There’s even a Code for Australia!


1) Open Chattanooga (Open Data Game Plan), Chattanooga TransitApp.  Three days and $0 to achieve an online public transport system.

2) Discover Boston Public Schools.  Converting a 30 + page document into a form to help students make choices.

See also:

Crowdsourced app testing:

How to increase the success of Government projects:

Data Vic:

GovHack Australia July 2015

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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


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