A2Dominion are one of London’s largest social housing providers. Having embarked on a multi million pound digital transformation project, it became clear to senior leadership that their technology-first approach was not providing the customer – and therefore the business – with the promised benefits. The voice of the customer needed to be better represented in the process and A2Dominion sought a set of tools to ensure that voice would be heard.

A2Dominion needed a digital platform that accommodated their broad spectrum of user needs. Clearleft were brought in to arm the in-house team with a full suite of digital assets, processes and knowledge via a team of specialist designers – including content, user experience and visual design – as well as development consultation.

Our four key objectives for the project:

  1. The customer-facing website should offer a better experience
  2. 80% of website transactions should be self-serve (part of overall service transformation)
  3. Digital channels should reduce avoidable contact
  4. The internal team should be empowered for the future
Well... what can I say? That was simply brilliant! It’s safe to say we have a very satisfied group of business stakeholders. Thank you for amazing UX and visual work, boundless amounts of energy and creative drive.
Gema Vicente
Gema Vicente Digital Web Manager, A2Dominion

The Results

An empowered in-house team

Future UX, visual and content design work will be expedited by the design system, pattern library, and content strategy deliverables – all working together to prioritise the user experience.


Solutions to real user needs

Our regular usability testing schedule proved the benefits of targeted problem solving which naturally led to more confident stakeholder buy-in.


Making impact at scale

A small, focused design team developed a scalable approach to tackle problems throughout the wider transformation program. We identified 50 processes within the organisation, worked with the client team to transform a handful of those together and gave them the tools to transform them all.


The Full Story

a2dominion collaborative sketching
Collaborative sketching session with the A2Dominion team

How do you get the team working collaboratively and effectively prioritising work?

We introduced the team to an agile working process early on, implementing an approach to rapid iteration and learning. To keep things manageable we divided the project into 10 discrete sections and defined how an overarching approach to design would enable us to tie them all together.

This enabled us to have tough conversations around prioritisation early on and to help shape A2Dominion’s approach to product ownership.

Facilitating one of 10 workshops
Facilitating one of 10 workshops to start unpicking thorny problems from a section of the website

How do you shift focus to user needs?

We ran a four-week discovery phase to understand how user experience and interface design fitted into their workstream. Misidentified customer needs had resulted in convoluted journeys through the website. A2Dominion’s existing personas focused on tenure types and not needs, forcing users to categorise themselves too early, leading to frustrating user journeys and driving users to call the contact centre. During the discovery phase we identified four core needs across the website.

How do you embed new ways of working?

Over the course of the project we delivered over 80 prototype pages and 22 usability tests. We designed, tested, iterated, designed and tested. Usability testing is not a vanity project – at every stage the tests revealed important issues we were able to remedy in our next iteration.

usability testing session with the A2Dominion team
Observing a usability testing session with the A2Dominion team

Spending more time listening to the user was a key element of the transformation. We recommended biweekly user research sessions, the first step towards embedded research ops.

One key insight was around repairs – over 85% of forms were being completed with inaccurate data online resulting in calls to the contact centre. Through user research and testing we systematically identified the common pain points.

It quickly became obvious that user flows needed to be human-driven rather than technology-driven. This surfaced related needs around language and communication and set the stage for the forthcoming content strategy work.

Groupos working wityh postits Designing solutions to real user needs
Designing solutions to real user needs

Setting out an approach to content

All content needed to be written in clear, unambiguous language, with every page having a clearly identified purpose. The website had a huge breadth of content coming from multiple sources. We needed solid governance and structure around repeatable patterns.

There were also issues with A2Dominion’s brand perception online. Firstly, there was very little awareness they are a charity. Secondly, the staff’s genuine care and concern for their customers and their communities were not being clearly communicated.

We conducted a content audit in order to start building a strategic framework. From this framework, we were able to do content page modelling, process mapping, tone of voice and brand messaging development. The goal was to create a set of reusable content templates that would drive consistency and engage the wider transformation programme, illustrating how they could be fed into a centralised content platform.

Everybody loves the new tone of voice. The content strategy work has been so worthwhile I’m so glad we managed to get it in.
Gema Vicente
Gema Vicente Digital Web Manager, A2Dominion

How do you build in accessibility-first design?

To maximise efficiency we designed in a modular way, creating reusable components which would serve both the customer-facing website and the partner portal. Since A2Dominion’s existing design guidelines were print-led we planned to document our digital design approach and include this with our project deliverables.

A2Dominion digital style guide
One key deliverable was a digital style guide including notes on how, when and why to use certain patterns

In order to prioritise accessibility, we started designing deep in the website, looking at the functional signed-in area first, where users would manage their accounts and appointments. Then we worked backwards to the front of the website, finishing with the home page. As we designed our way from the practical, task-focused pages towards the context-setting pages, we introduced more of the brand personality. This ensured that the functional end of the website would be fit for purpose, with users able to swiftly deal with their issues, while the more browsable side of the website had plenty of character to engage potential new customers.

Property search illustration

To help add warmth and personality Clearleft commissioned a set of illustrations visualising some of the identified user types. A2Dominion are an authority, and are perceived as such. But they also have a friendly and approachable human side which we hoped to start communicating through these illustrations, as well as through their own existing high-quality photography featuring residents and community events.

During the design process, we introduced the client team to the concept of atomic design and the benefits of a modular system. We worked to deliver an extensible pattern library that could be branded to suit A2Dominion’s existing and future sub-brands. The ability to quickly and easily add new components to each of these was a priority. We ended up with a stripped down and minimal set of ingredients that served a wide variety of needs. Inspired by the likes of GOV.UK this ensured consistency and accessibility for all of the identified user types. Because the customer base represented the full spectrum of society it was imperative that the site be as easy to understand and use as possible.

A2D Components
With few visual ingredients we achieved a consistent visual tone with enough flexibility to serve many user needs

A2Dominion are undertaking a long-term digital transformation project with multiple third parties. To best integrate our work into the wider program it was crucial that we not only delivered high-quality assets and ideas but that we also embedded best practices and ways of working. This levelled up the internal team to advocate for design-led digital transformation. And be better prepared for conversations around development and deployment, armed with discussion points and tools to communicate effectively with their ongoing tech partners.

a2dominion.co.uk

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