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Multi-disciplinary working and the new Child Benefit tax calculator

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We recently introduced a new iteration of the Child Benefit tax calculator on GOV.UK and I wanted to share how we got there.

The core team

I was part of a small multi-disciplinary team brought together to work on this project. Stephen Rehill and I led on the content, with Amy Whitney leading on design. Steve Laing led on the development side, with support from the wider team of developers (a special mention to Jack Franklin). We also had help with accessibility, search and user testing (a special thanks to Tara Land and Angela Collins-Rees).

The core team was focused on the calculator for the duration of the project, sitting on a bank of desks away from our own teams to make it a smoother, more collaborative effort. We sat together for around 2 months, used our own Pivotal backlog and iterated quickly following rounds of testing.

How we worked

The content designers started by getting to grips with the subject matter. A user needs planning session followed, keeping this latest iteration focused on the user. We streamlined the calculator into 3 steps:

  1. How much Child Benefit you get
  2. How much you must pay as a tax charge
  3. What your next steps are

The designer and developer were then brought in, and sketches followed. Content was tweaked, internally reviewed among content designers (see my previous blog) and then tweaked it again.

HMRC factchecked the calculator and it then went to user testing. The team iterated again the next day.

What next?

The new calculator is now live. From here, we'll be tracking how engaged users are with it by looking at user feedback through Zendesk as well as data through Google Analytics. We'll also keep track of the keywords leading in as the deadline approaches.

This'll hopefully be a good benchmark for more agile working within a core project team. It's  shown how quickly we can iterate and how useful user testing is in getting to users directly.

See the new GOV.UK guide on the high income Child Benefit tax charge for further information on what's behind the calculator.

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