About Me

I’m a cynical idealist.  I believe that Canada is one of the best countries in the world; but it could be even better. As a Business Analyst working in Information & Communications Technology and performance measurement, I have the opportunity to be a part of a growing movement of professionals using User-Centred Design (UCD) principles to help develop a results-based culture in the Federal Public Service.

Photo of the Web Standards team

Happy team at CodeFest 2012! I’m in the middle

This is Me
Laura Wesley
Lead, Web Usability
Federal Department (Policy Centre)
Government of Canada

resultsjunkie (at) gmail.com

View Laura Wesley's profile on LinkedIn

The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the Government of Canada’s positions, strategies or opinions.  I update this site on my own time, not on the taxpayer’s dime.  And just as I have some opinions that my employer may not share, some people who I link to, and others who link to me, have opinions I do and do not share.  However, I encourage open dialogue. Want to know more about this blog or the image in the banner?

My background
I stumbled into web analytics in my first job within the public service in 2001 because nobody else in my unit had time to do it but we all knew someone had to.  As the newest hire, I was eager to please and even more eager to learn anything and everything.  My job was to work with internal staff who were managing websites.  Thus began my interest in evidence-based decision-making and client service.

Fast forward almost a decade, I have also expanded my interests and skills (out of curiosity and necessity) to performance measurement (specifically Results-based Management) for government services delivered via multiple channels (web, phone, e-mail, in person, by mail).   In one assignment, I developed a performance measurement framework consistent with User-centered Design and Government of Canada policies using web analytics and specialized test methods such as usability testing to quantify and improve user experience with the government both online and offline.

I love my job.

Why I’m blogging
The world has vastly changed during my short career and if  Thomas Homer-Dixon is right (he probably is!) then it’s only going to continue to become more complex.   Everything is converging and expanding so rapidly: the tools we use, the environment & demographic in which we live and work, the level of service expected from the government.  The list goes on and on.  Honestly, I’m finding it tough to keep up with everything I need to just to do my job well.  Which is why I started this blog: I need help! I need to meet people who care about the city, country and world that we live in to share and critique ideas.

I also need to practice what I preach.  How can I give advice on using social media to facilitate business objectives if I don’t know how to do it myself?  Starting the blog has forced me to learn continuously by applying the theory I learn through research.  It helps me to focus my thoughts around topics that I work in everyday.  I’m looking forward to a day when I can merge this blog into my work life, but for now it remains an extracurricular.  I sorta consider it professional development.

WesleyWordle

A wordle I made to introduce myself when I started a new job

Areas of Interest
Web Analytics, Results-based management, eCollaboration, Business Analysis, Communities of Practice, eCommunication, Performance Measurement, Usability, User-centered Design, citizen engagement, innovation, social media & web 2.0…

My credentials
As I was already working full-time for a management consulting start-up when I was studying Psychology at the University of Ottawa, I decided to ditch my full-time studies as soon as I could get the piece of paper I was spending 120% of my wages earning.  I continued my learning through a variety of formal and informal courses, and more formal learning as well like Nielsen Norman Group’s Usability Week.  The most useful thing I took was Masters’ Certificate in Business Analysis at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University.

Reuse
All works presented on this site are protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada License.

12 Responses to About Me

  1. Rural says:

    I will say right away that I am not in your target audience however in the spirit of “{improving} democracy by engaging citizens online, and … {making} sites usable” I am going to send a few thoughts your way.

    Firstly I 100% agree with your statement “Canada wants to be known around the world as a defender of good governance. But low voter turnout shows us that too many have lost faith in the democratic process. In order to build that trust back, we need to open our doors to *our* shareholders – citizens – to build credibility and win back their trust.”

    How much influence our PS can have upon that is questionable in my mind when governments take actions to do exactly the opposite. I know you cannot get into that, but offer it as a measure of the frustration with the level of manipulation of information that currently seems to be the norm.

    I will move on to my main point, you say “Sadly, many federal government departments are still under-utilizing the power of the Internet to deliver services and information and consult Canadians.”
    Once again you have stated what to many of us is fairly obvious, several departments do seem to be trying but our government web sites in general seem to be about delivering what information the government or department want us to know and not perhaps what we need or should know. Perhaps I too am cynical, or it may be that there needs to be a better way of finding our way through the enormous amount of information that IS contained on such sites.

    “Let’s improve democracy by engaging citizens online, and hey, why can’t we make sites usable while we’re at it?”
    Yes indeed, the protection and enhancement of our democracy is my ongoing focus in many of my rants and posts across the blogosphere, if our PS can improve the transparency and efficiency of government by improving web content and accessibility then I fully support you initiative. Given that the final target audience of any completed change will be the general public I ask but one thing from the technical gurus. Keep in mind that for any web site or web service to be fully accessible to all Canadians that it CANNOT exclude those on rural dial up connections or those with older OS that do not have all the bells and whistles attached. Even following links down through multiple pages can be a real chore for dialuppers when each page takes some time to come down.

    I will give one brief example, whilst I have no difficulty accessing my secure banking or EI reporting pages any attempt to access “epass” is rejected in that it does not like my system for some reason. See http://ruralcanadian.blogspot.com/ in that regard.

    Sorry for the long reply, I applaud your initiative and that of the other PS bloggers whom I just became aware of via http://inthehouseandsenate.blogspot.com/2009/02/take-walk-into-little-known.html and the sidebar links at http://contrarianthinking.ca/.
    Keep on blogging guys.

  2. Laura says:

    Thanks for the support Rural. I grew up in the country and my parents are still on dial-up so I get a regular dose of this every time they call. :)

    You’ll be happy to know that the government has a (fairly new) policy that all the Federal Departments have to follow to ensure that every Canadian, regardless of technology being used (OS, dial up, mobile device) or physical ability (screen readers etc) can access government sites. It’s sort of boring to read the details, but the link is here if you’re interested – http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/clf-nsi/index-eng.asp.

  3. Hi Laura,

    I saw your comment on my blog about the usefulness of our slides on “Measuring the Impact of Social Media in Government.” How can we work together to move toward a common set of metrics…or, at least, build out some typical measurement standards to help gov think about it from the outset of Web-based projects?

  4. Rennie says:

    “Let’s improve democracy by engaging citizens online, and hey, why can’t we make sites usable while we’re at it?”Yes indeed, the protection and enhancement of our democracy is my ongoing focus in many of my rants and posts across the blogosphere, if our PS can improve the transparency and efficiency of government by improving web content and accessibility then I fully support you initiative. Given that the final target audience of any completed change will be the general public I ask but one thing from the technical gurus. Keep in mind that for any web site or web service to be fully accessible to all Canadians that it CANNOT exclude those on rural dial up connections or those with older OS that do not have all the bells and whistles attached. Even following links down through multiple pages can be a real chore for dialuppers when each page takes some time to come down.
    +1

  5. Laura says:

    We’re working on fixing that Rennie! P.S. Something about your comment or email address is spammy. I hope you’re real. :)

  6. Despina says:

    hi Laura
    I’m very interested in knowing more about measuring satisfaction with govt web sites. See your ppt and wanted to chat moe about customer satisfaction.
    I work in policy and research in Vic gov in Australia.

  7. Ted Ritzer says:

    Hi Laura
    I blog to the Government of Alberta, I just posted a link to your latest article there.

    I have pasted in something I posted there, I thought you may be interested in.

    Ted Ritzer
    Edmonton
    UK World’s Best Example of Agile Development of Digital Government Services?

    Tim O’Reilly’s Video:
    Watch Tim O’Reilly, the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, talk about the importance of focusing on user needs and how the Government Digital Strategy is “inspiring” because of its focus on user centred design.

    One of the best descriptions of this philosophy is the following Guardian article on government services in the UK:

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/video/2013/jun/13/geek…

    Video:

    Digital By Default Service Design Manual:

    Digital Services Design Manual:

    https://www.gov.uk/service-manual

    Agile Development of Government Services:
    A snapshot of Agile Delivery in Central Government:

    http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/snashot_Agi…

  8. Laura says:

    Thanks Ted! Great stuff!

  9. @RobinKilroy says:

    Sorry about leaving another comment. I just wanted to specify that I know you have a couple of posts on plain language! I’m looking for specific advice on getting involved and making plain language part of the usability discussion. Thanks!

  10. @RobinKilroy says:

    OK, it appears that my first comment, the prequel to the one above, did not post properly.
    My question to you, Laura, is how you see language people fitting into this discussion. I am very interested in how language contributes to usability and believe that language and technology go hand-in-hand: If you have a great site that is usable on the technical front, but users can’t understand a word of it, that’s a problem; if you have a great site language-wise (and design-wise), but the site is not usable technically speaking, again, that’s a problem.

    I wish more language people were participating in this type of discussion. Dr. Neil James gave a talk called “‘Clear Language’ may unite plain language, editing, usability, information design professions” (You can find it on Latitude Media at http://lmighton.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/the-crystal-ball-clear-language-may-unite-plain-language-editing-usability-information-design-professions/)…Do you have any advice for someone involve din clear communication (me) to get involved in government usability? Thanks again.

  11. Laura says:

    Thanks for coming back and adding the prequel! I was wondering…Clear writing is probably THE most important part of making web content usable, especially when coupled with information layout. Add user feedback & testing and we’ve got a winning strategy!

    There’s a lot you can contribute to if you have the time and effort; I can send you some GCPEDIA links to ongoing projects from work tmr.

  12. @RobinKilroy says:

    That would be awesome! Thanks very much.

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