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A once in a decade survey that gives us a better future

Office for National Statistics

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I was appointed by the Office for National Statistics to work on Census 2021. Census 2021 will be the first digital-first census and is a survey that happens every ten years. My role was to join the team as an Interaction Designer, to focus on the engagement and respond phase of the census website.

The engagement phase was for local authorities, community groups, media and campaigns, to help raise awareness and encourage people to fill in their census questionnaire.

Engagement landing page design

User testing and research

We had a defined set of user needs. We then met each of those needs with design. From design, we built prototypes that we tested with local authorities from around the country.

We would gather our findings, make changes where necessary, and take our prototypes out for further rounds of testing. This process was rigorous but ensured we were delivering a usable service to our users and not just the business.

Downloadable resources pattern
Prototyping code ready for user testing

Designing the look and feel

A lot of care and attention was applied when designing new components and patterns to enhance the overall brand for Census 2021. Each item needed to be flexible and scalable for use on a desktop or mobile device. We also needed to take into account the Welsh language, which on some occasions meant adjusting patterns to cater for this change.

Engage phase banner design
Respond phase banner design

Contributing to a design system

I also contribute heavily to the ONS design system, adding newly designed components, patterns, accessibility enhancements as well as fixing bugs to provide a reliable, flexible framework for powering many of the Office for National Statistics services including Census 2021.

A lot of components and patterns started based on user requirements from Census 2021. They would then be added into the design system, tested and made available for other services that may benefit from tried and tested patterns. It would take a few people to agree on the quality of coding and usefulness of patterns before being approved and merged.

In some cases, a pattern would be tagged as experimental to allow for user testing to confirm its usefulness before being introduced for use across services.

Each component would be flexible in its usage and would include detailed documentation and guidance on how to use and apply it.

Hero banner added to design system

Ongoing project

More information to follow in the coming months.