As part of the rollout of Register trainee teachers, we produced information packs about the new service and sent them to the email addresses of providers we had on record.
The packs contained information about Register replacing the DTTP (Database of trainee teachers and providers), the timescales for the rollout and what service different types of provider should be using.
We also included some instructions on using Register because we recognised that our users tend to be task specific on the digital inclusion scale. This means they have low confidence when using new digital services.
Continuing our research on Register, we heard that some users were unaware of the information packs. The emails we send to providers do not always get to the right people, for example, if staff have moved on or if the generic email address we have is not regularly monitored.
We’re also aware that some providers hire extra staff for ITT data collection periods because it demands additional resource. We’ll never have up to date contact information for all providers because of the different and changing nature of staffing.
Communicating with our users
It’s crucial for us to communicate with the providers involved in ITT data collection. Traditionally, it’s an intense period for the DfE support team, with numerous questions and issues being raised daily. Add in the transition from the DTTP to Register, and it can become confusing and stressful for providers.
Some users told us that they relied on emails from DfE about updates, but admitted that they could be missed amongst the many that DfE sends. Some also told us that they read updates on the DTTP homepage to find out the latest information.
As we added more training routes to Register and increased the amount of data collected, we experienced more support queries and more need for us to tell users about features we’d released.
There was an obvious need for us to communicate with users about common support queries we were receiving. For example, on certain training routes, there is no need for us to collect data on schools when a trainee is either self funded or is employed by a private school.
We were making all users give us this data, so once we’d fixed it, we got back in touch with those who’d contacted us to let them know. But there was no way to know if it affected other users who may not have been in touch with us.
What we did
Research participants mentioned the DTTP updates content, so we started looking at how we could implement this within Register. We felt it would be a low risk feature, but also give us another way to communicate with users without having to rely on emails.
We looked at the GOV.UK design system and their ‘What’s new’ content, featured on the start page.
We did not want to solely focus on the what’s new aspect as this content could be used to give reminders to providers, for example, about census and outcome collection dates. We called it ‘News and updates’ to enable us to give various types of information to our users.
Similar to the design system, the latest message is posted on Register’s sign in page. It contains the date the message was published, a headline and then main body content of the news or update.
Beneath the latest message, users can view all of the previous messages through the link - they do not have to be signed in to view this page. There’s also a link to this page from Register’s homepage.
On the news and updates page, users can view all of the messages that have been posted in chronological order. We’re using anchor links, so it’s easier for users to find what they’re looking for. We can also link to specific posts in our other communications, for example, provider emails or the BAT (Becoming a teacher) newsletter.
We’ve released this feature because it’s low risk, and we’ll ask users about it in future research rounds. We’ll also monitor the visits to the ‘News and updates’ page to check if it’s being used.
We will not use it for everything we release because the user interface should mostly fulfil that function. But when users have contacted us with common issues, we can address those who may not have contacted us about the same issue.
We’ll also use it to remind users of significant dates and changes to ITT data collection, for example, DTTP switch off and the ongoing work with HESA data.
Anybody on the team can recommend an entry for ‘News and updates’. It will need to get approval from the product manager and then be written by the content designer before it’s posted.