Defining processes and exploring improvement: Exploratory user research for critical witness service software

Measuring Success

Every project has a unique story. However, success should always be measurable. Here are the stats and facts that sets this project apart.

Delivered in line with the new service model

Uncovered 19 areas for improvement

Provided operation-wide understanding

Setting the Scene

WitnessBox is a CRM platform operated by Citizens’ Advice for the witness service. It’s safe to say, it is a critical support network in the justice system. Its main purpose is to manage witness credentials and track their activity through the courts.

Citizens’ Advice and a team of volunteers are there to ensure the stressful experience of going to court is as frictionless as possible. WitnessBox is a technology solution used by teams to collaborate and carry out their work. The web application’s main purpose is to organise key events in the witness process while managing sensitive data.



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Trust the Process

Our 5-Step process is core to all we do. Working through each project, we apply each step to maximise our output and bring a proven process to our work. All steps are configured to meet your teams’ individual needs and objectives. Here’s a sample of each step in action.


Scoping The Research Requirments

After several years of continuous use, the WitnessBox web app needed a major product overhaul. A combination of technical and design debt build-up has led to inefficiencies and several creative workarounds. The state of the technology paired with the changing needs of the WitnessBox team lead to frustration all around. They needed an upgrade.

We needed to clearly understand the initial challenges to put together a solid research approach. Our objective was to understand users’ work patterns and frustrations to find design-centred solutions for WitnessBox 2.0.

In summary, their problems were:

  • An outdated CRM that complicated workflows and inefficiently managed key tasks.

  • Ingrained internal processes and workarounds that frustrated users.

  • Uncertainty on how to approach finding user-centred solutions to improve their technology


Exploratory Research

This research project is exploratory, meaning, the problems users are facing are unknown to the product team, our objectives should be set in a way that helps us define the problems which act as a stepping stone to taking action.

Given our research brief was around human problems we needed empathetic and user-focused objectives. These were:

  1. Understand how user groups use WitnessBox and how they work with it - What are the processes involved?

  2. What pain points are users experiencing using the current system?

  3. How might WB 2.0 alleviate these problems? What features and functionality are required?


Choosing Research Methods

With the scope and problem defined, we had to choose our approach. The objectives lend themselves well to a fully qualitative approach; as qualitative methods would allow us to explore in detail the processes and problems involved with WitnessBox.

Working remote-first, our research team conducted 14 semi-structured interviews via video call, each lasting between 40-60 minutes. After some initial questions about their roles and responsibilities, they were asked to share their screen with WB open and talk through how they use the system. Interview participants included:

  • 5 referral team members (including 2 team leaders)

  • 5 court team leaders

  • 2 outreach team leaders

  • 1 service administrators

  • 1 Technology/applications support specialist


Compiling The Data

By compiling over 600 minutes of user transcripts, we established a clear picture of what it was like to work with WitnessBox - sealing the deal on objective 1.

After detailed analysis, we were able to distil the data into 6 major challenges presented to users by the current version of WitnessBox. By applying our in-house design know-how we were able to recommend solutions that were as simple as building in notifications for rejected LWACs (List of Witness to Attend Court) to complex features like cross-country collaboration between courts in different regions.

By focusing on the 6 major challenges, we pointed the WitnessBox team in the best direction for making big leaps in the user experience in V2.0

Exploring the wider user experience

A benefit of exploratory research is the wide scope of topics you can cover. By looking at WitnessBox from all angles our research team found 14 ‘minor pain points’.

By building these considerations into their product roadmap, the product team at WitnessBox can make better decisions based on evidence. A number of these when resolved are quick wins and can make life easier for their users and improve the overall experience of the application.

Demonstrating the wider journey

As part of the wider output of the research, our design team created user journeys to clearly illustrate the key points of interaction within the software, depending on the different user groups and the data collected from the research.

A common technique in UX design, the five user journeys can be applied by the product team to create user-focused story points to align their feature prioritisation when it comes to building out the new product roadmap for WitnessBox 2.0.

Mapping functionality & design recommendations

To address the second objective we applied the research finding to map the moving parts of the current system. By talking to users at every level we built up a clear picture of the processes involved. Clear themes and patterns that emerged from the data allowed us to get a pulse on users’ pain points - this made up the main body of our research findings.

Where our team really makes a difference, is the unique combination of research expertise and design consultancy, meaning as well as insights and analysis, we provide meaningful actions for improvement.

With WitnessBox, we were able to organise our findings into recommendations that worked around the new service model structure. By accounting for new self-service routes, we were able to create bespoke design recommendations that the product team could take forward.

By using the width and depth of our findings, we could recommend 14 possible software features to improve WitnessBox 2.0 that will provide an altogether better experience for its users.


The Outcome

So, what did we achieve? With the combination of the data collected from the research participants, we developed a deep understanding of the processes and capacity of the team to meet our research objectives. These were compiled into a bespoke report for the product team and wider organisation.

Do you need help with a user research project?

From exploratory research to understanding how users interact with your product, our research methodology provides the evidence you need to focus on your users. Book a structured call with our studio team now to understand how we can help you get started.

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