E-administration and citizens: the other shock of simplification

by bold-lichterman

The online services of French administrations are far from being the stars of ergonomics and consistency. What is the impact for the institutions and, above all, for the user-citizens? How can we give ourselves the means to think about the e-administration of tomorrow?

If our company has now largely integrated digital into its practices, the appearance of “uberized” companies, such as Airbnb, Netflix or BlaBlaCar, has led to the emergence of new uses in our daily lives. Citizens have thus acquired the habit of being surrounded by services that adapt to their needs, make their lives easier, save them time, and even entertain them. These services that we consume and pay for work wonderfully. But they also create new demands in terms of ergonomics and user experience.

The confrontation of these new standards with online public services widens the gap between the administration and its users. It also helps to increase inequalities more broadly in access to employment, training or public policies. Initiatives such as “France Connect”, carried by the SGMAP, are beneficial because they go in the direction of a fluidification of the user experience, but they are still too scattered.

Thus, it is urgent that public administrations make the issue of their accessibility a priority.

A trust issue

Even today, the online services of French administrations are too often labyrinthine and difficult to read. The question of user navigation is not at the center of their design and the user experience is not taken into account as such.

This point is not without consequence: if the design of a site is not thought of from the point of view of the user, it is then the latter who must adapt to the “logic” of the site. Irritating but inconsequential for an average site, these issues are much more important for a public service application.

For the user, this gives a diminished image of the role and capacity of the State to be able to meet their needs. It should be remembered that the use of e-administration services, the offer of which is rather well provided in France, often occurs at key moments in the life of the citizen: the user therefore needs a reassuring framework. , directive and clear which makes it easier and safer for him.

A duty of inclusion

The issue of access to online public services also has a social dimension. Beyond the fact that digital technology is not yet 100% accessible to French people, the real divide today lies in the mastery of digital uses. For citizens unfamiliar with digital uses, there is no doubt that ergonomics, semantics and the navigation elements offered also constitute barriers to entry. Moreover, if the sites of French administrations are complex for a large number of people born in France, how can they be accessible to audiences who do not master the language or who do not know the administrative procedures?

In its October 2013 report on e-inclusion, the National Digital Council underlined the importance of harmonizing public service access sites through consistent interfaces. For the past two years, the Anglo-Saxon countries have understood this well and have distinguished themselves by their efforts to rethink public service offers and bring consistency to all interfaces. In the United States, the government agency 18F shares in open source the visual and typographic standards that must be applied on the sites of the American federal government to allow a homogeneous and pleasant user experience.

Likewise, in the United Kingdom, a charter of seven principles, “Digital by Default”, has been defined to simplify the language, the use paths and the information architecture. The British government has also favored a “web first” approach to encourage ministries to review their sites, to create “responsive” formats whose content can be adapted to any medium (computer, smartphone, tablet). Ultimately, this approach would lead to savings of around 5 million euros over four years.

Think user and ecosystem

To gain in efficiency, two changes are necessary in the way of conceiving e-administration.

The first is a change of focus: globally, any service must start from the needs and experience of its target users to be effective. Here, it is therefore about all the citizens likely to have recourse to e-administration.

Analyzing user needs makes it possible to have a site whose experience is specifically designed to provide answers to these needs, which can be as many simplified entry points for the service in question.

The other major change in the conception of these services is to come to conceive them not individually, but more as ecosystems of services. It is necessary to be able to ensure continuity of services on all the points of contact that would be likely to affect the user during his journey.

For example, wouldn’t it be easier to take a complex process where it was left on the site via another channel, and finish it during a physical meeting or by phone?

Clarisse MoisandGraduated from Sciences Po Bordeaux in 2008 and after a first experience in Asia, Clarisse Moisand founded, upon his return in early 2011, WEDO Studios a consulting agency in innovation and design of experience. Since its creation, WEDO Studios has supported large groups, start-ups and organizations in the design, development and implementation of innovative projects.

Passionate about social sciences and digital technology, Clarisse works on new global innovation strategies, which combine the functional with the emotional. Clarisse participated in the development of “design thinking” and “service design” in France as a professor at ESSEC Business School. She is regularly asked to speak at specialized conferences, in France and abroad.

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