Another busy week in the Digital Team at Natural Resources Wales. Here’s some of the cool stuff we’ve been working on:

Bilingual design approach

We were approached by CDPS and the Welsh Language Commissioner to talk about our approach with trio writing for a case study about designing bilingual services. Heledd and Manon were interviewed, and we captured some action shots of Lucinda and Manon in a short video, which will be promoted in March. Lucinda and Manon were doing a trio writing session with Rob Mills for the new register for a flood warning service. After the session, they will share feedback to help shape more practical guidance that Rob is producing with CDPS to help teams get started with trio writing. We’ll also be catching up and continuing the work with colleagues in flood over coming weeks. Content for our top-tasks is where we’ve identified as most suited for trio writing.

picture from a trio writing session

Organisations that have already embraced user-centred design and working in multidisciplinary teams are most suited to taking the “trio writing” approach.

It’s probably why we’re seeing more momentum in some of the UK Gov bodies at the moment, as working to the service standards is more developed.

There’s lots of people sharing their approach to Welsh content at the moment:

Hazardous waste consignee returns - BJSS

CDPS and NRW worked on a wider hazardous waste discovery back in 2022. With a list of recommendations for next steps produced.

A shorter 4-week discovery was completed by NRW and BJSS on one of the recommendations to fix / improve the consignee returns process and dreaded macro spreadsheet. This process has been causing considerable user issues for both staff and external users, from validating, billing errors and simple difficulty opening and using the spreadsheet.

Currently NRW are working in partnership with BJSS for 6 weeks to develop a web tool to replace the consignee returns macro spreadsheet. Alex and Sam have been part of the core team working with BJSS.

While the digital services team were not part of the discovery side with BJSS last autumn, but we have been embedded within the delivery team. The project is being run by BJSS providing, delivery manager, 2 x Developers and a content designer. Meanwhile NRW have provided 2 x SMEs, product manager, Content Designer, and access to NRW’s developers.

The project team are using Azure Dev ops and confluence. It has been great to see the tickets being completed at speed and taking part in the daily stand-ups and sprint planning / sprint review meetings.

Alex and Sam have been trying to guide the delivery team to make a product that will minimise the maintenance cost of updating content and guidance. Ensuring that content being written is in line with NRW’s standards and creating the test pages with Umbraco.

Sam demonstrated to the BJSS team how Umbraco works and how we currently manage and want to manage our content in the future.

We expect this project to complete on time and with a production ready service for NRW to run through our governance checks before publication.

Everyone is quite excited to be able to say “WE FIXED THE SPREADSHEET!”

Working in the open: Letting user research guide the way

screenshot from Sophie and James’ presentation to Welsh Government

On Wednesday, James and Sophie gave a presentation to the Welsh Government User Research Community Event to showcase how we improved our services in line with user research findings.

We were able to share some of the key learnings we uncovered through our user research interviews and emphasise the importance of focusing on what you know is right for users.

We explained our process and how delivering in small increments was helpful for securing buy-ins from senior management. Another lesson we shared was that something doesn’t need to be perfect to go live. Continued improvement of a service can be facilitated through feedback direct from users once a new form or service has been published.

It was a great session, we got to show our progress and received excellent feedback from attendees. Thanks again for having us!

Other things we’ve been working on

  • James and Sophie presented to Welsh Government’s User Research Community about our ‘permissions’ work. That’s the work on making it easier for users to check whether they need permission to do something on land we manage and then successfully apply for that permission. We had great feedback about the session.
  • Shaun continues work on the installations Environmental Permit application form and associated web content.
  • There have also been amendments to the water discharge pre-application content, water abstraction, radioactive substance permit charges and water available in our catchments pages all prompted by relevant SMEs.
  • Discussions have been taking place with the Water Quality Policy team about the best way to publish four river quality reports and associated data.
  • We’re looking forward to Naomi Evans helping out on our busy mailbox from next week onwards.
  • Members of the team took part in pre kick-off sessions for an 8 week discovery for one of our licensing services. We hope to start sharing more about this in our weeknotes over the coming weeks.
  • Heledd met with Jon, Lead Product Manager at Neath Port Talbot Council. Looks like we have very similar teams, with similar challenges - so we’ll continue regular catch ups.

Fun Fact Friday - in 2024 we’re likely to see the end of the square checkbox

Apple is the first major operating system vendor who had abandoned a four-decades-long tradition. For the first time in the history of Apple we will have round checkboxes. This blog covered the history of the design history of checkboxes: In Loving Memory of Square Checkbox @

picture of a checkbox