GDS to form GOV.UK user research panel

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has revealed plans to build a user research panel for GOV.UK.

Part of a wider user research team, GDS is well down the road in terms of infosec, content, design and development. A simple version of the panel will be launched by the end of July 2016, which will be developed further as the team behind it learns what works, what doesn’t, and what panellists and researchers need.

In a blog post, Kate Towsey, a user researcher and delivery manager in the GDS confirmed that the panel is being created in order to help recruit both general GOV.UK users, and people visiting specific pages on GOV.UK – something external recruiters can’t do for the service. It’s hoped this will attract participants that better match the criteria wanted and be more cost efficient.


The mechanics

Towsey confirmed that the GDS is working with Squiz to customise an instance of its SugarCRM Enterprise customer management tool, build a panel sign-up form, and build a landing page for follow up surveys. The sign-up form and follow up surveys will be hosted on GOV.UK subdomains.

People will be invited to join the panel via selected GOV.UK pages, feedback forms and social media. Once panellists have completed the sign-up process, including a double-opt in, their details will be securely stored in SugarCRM.

SugarCRM will allow GOV.UK researchers to search the database for panelists specific to their needs – such as people under 25 who live in a rural area – invite them to research, and easily manage and track all communications with them.

Towsey concluded by saying: “Because we’ll be collecting personal information (and possibly sensitive-personal information), our user research panel must meet Cabinet Office information security standards.

“To meet these needs, our panel has been designed with security in mind. It’s being hosted on secure data servers in the UK, and the technical support team is based in the UK and have appropriate security clearances.”

If you’d like more information about this project, email Kate at


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