Hyde Foundation

Creating an award-winning reusable tool to guide people through the process of claiming Universal Credit

01 Where it all started

The complexities of the Universal Credit claim process result in eligible candidates unable to complete the application. Missing out or delays in receiving UC can trigger a chain of events: rent arrears, eviction, and even homelessness. These events are stressful for claimants, compounding their condition and confidence in welfare provision. They are also costly and time consuming for housing providers, having to manage financial implication, provide support for tenants, advise on alternative solutions and deal with rehousing.

02 Where we came in

Hyde Housing Association were looking for a digital partner to help define and develop an easy-to-use digital tool that guides claimants through every step of the process. The tool needed to work both as self-serve and to support advisors, and there was a desire to make it re-usable for all organisations across the benefit sector.

The application has since gone on to win ‘Most Innovative New Product’ and the Housing Innovation Awards.

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03 What we delivered

1.0 Creating an easy-to-use companion tool

Considering one of the main frustrations of users was the complexities of the Universal Credit online system, the last thing we wanted to do was create yet another digital tool they felt obliged to use that was equally confusing in how to use and in what it was saying.

Through continual design and testing cycles, we made the tool as simple as possible for anyone to pick up and use - stripping away any unnecessary clutter like creating accounts, while using local storage so the user could always pick up from wherever they left it.

2.0 Developing a supporting environment

How a user is feeling is a key consideration for the UX design of any digital tool. We knew our users were often anxious, frustrated, and confused. We focused on building a clear content strategy to inform not just this current version of the tool, but to provide guidelines for any future content updates, ensuring that users felt supported and not alone.

Working with Hyde’s experts - and continually testing with users - we also broke down the entire Universal Credit process into a series of manageable steps, removing any jargon and providing useful tips along the way.

3.0 Building for an open source world

This was not just a problem for tenants of Hyde Housing Association, but something that was affecting everyone within the benefits sector - both those needing to claim Universal Credit and the organisations looking to work with and support them.

We know it is not just enough to say something can be ‘re-used’ - you need to actively design the tool to be usable by and useful for others. A lot of our planning went into how this tool could most easily be re-used by other organisations with minimal development skills. They needed to be able to brand the platform, so it could seem recognisable to their users, with the ability to provide specific custom content, such as contact details for help. We treated organisations just like any other service user, building user personas to better understand their needs and frustrations. This was then used to carry out user testing at key stages of design and development to validate our work.

Over 60 organisations in the benefit sector signed up to use the tool within the first 3 months.

Yalla dived into our project with fantastic energy and took a very creative approach to resolving what we assumed was a near impossible challenge.

Throughout the project it felt like we were working in partnership and despite us having no background in neither design nor tech Yalla were excellent at bringing us into the decision making processes. The product we ended up with far exceeded our expectations.

I also have to commend how well they engaged with our staff and customers throughout user testing; everyone came away from their interactions with Yalla feeling that their contributions really mattered, and it was easy to follow how the feedback given translated into improvements to the product as it evolved.

Maggie Houghton
Programme Manager