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Design and Analysis

Case Study National Disability Insurance Agency 


In early 2018, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) received feedback that the current participant portal did not meet the expectations of participants and nominees of the scheme. The report highlighted the need to include participants in any subsequent process to improve these digital platforms. 

The Office of the CIO (O-CIO) was also on a procurement path to begin building the agency’s internal capability to develop and deploy digital solutions to meet the NDIA’s ever-changing needs.  

Chalfont was engaged to build an internal experience design team charged with improving the digital experience of external clients and internal staff, with a focus on accessible and inclusive design and development. 


The team set out to understand and define 4 key objectives. 

  1. What, if any, quick wins could be applied to the now legacy ‘myplace’ portal? 
  2. If we were to migrate the portal over to a new software platform, what did the minimum viable product (MVP) look like? 
  3. Of the features identified as essential for MVP, which ones needed improvements?  
  4. How could this new solution increase the uptake of self-service for not only our self-managed participants but also those who were provider and agency managed? 


The solution could be broken up into 3 options: 

  1. Spend a small amount of money on the current solution to provide some early relief; 
  2. There were some features that had a strong use case to live inside a mobile application; and 
  3. Rebuild the participant portal from the ground up. 

All 3 solutions were required to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WGAC) 2.1 AA and above. 


    Our process was broken into 4 steps: discover, synthesise, design and validate. 

    This is commonly known as the Double Diamond Design Method. Inside these 4 steps there are various tools we employ, from gathering insights to verifying we got it right in build. 

    The following methods were used within the participant portal project. 

    1) Discover what pain points exist. 

    In this phase we collected data from various touch points such as: 

    • A quick first step, we deployed a new feedback form within the myplace portal receiving 150 responses; 
    • A hand-coded WCAG 2.1 AA compliant survey with over 1,600 respondents prioritising and rating different features of the myplace portal; and 
    • 45 1-on-1, in-home generative research/usability sessions observing participants and nominees using the myplace portal. 

    2) Synthesise 

    The team collated all the feedback and produced a range of reports to communicate to the broader project and leadership team, the findings of discovery and what a good MVP looked like. These reports triangulated anecdotal, qualitative and quantitative data and used it to highlight: what users perceived would be the most important features to build into the future portal; how well these features performed for them; and what next steps the team needed to take to progress into design. 

    3 and 4) Design and Validate 

    With the rich data captured from the previous steps, the team set out to design a range of wireframes and prototypes to use in validation sessions with real end users living with or without a disability. 

    The concepts were tested on 38 users in face-to-face sessions and remote moderated settings.  

    After this, the team worked closely with the developers in an agile approach to build out the features and apply accessibility first principles to the sprints, with an aim to reduce the defects at the end of the sprints. 

    Since the deployment into production, the mobile application currently has 450 active Beta private users testing and exploring the features we have built, with a general release set for mid-year. Users love the new application, rating it highly – 4 and 5 out of 5 stars with a high likelihood to recommend to a friend. 

    The portal/responsive website is currently in build and is expected to go to Beta private in November this year. 

    As a side note, we observed, moderated and tested users with varying disabilities – from individuals with hearing impairments to quadriplegics using assistive technology to interact with our designs and production-ready products. 

      Overcoming Challenges 

      To begin with, there was very little buy-in from business. After approaching the CIO with a clear problem statement and firm action plan, we were given approval to proceed. The agency had not completed a project such as this before and there was a reluctance to consult with participants. 

      To overcome these challenges, we hand-coded an accessible survey, working closely with the communications and marketing team to publish our survey and simultaneously recruit potential participants for future usability tests. We worked closely with the architecture, cyber security and finance teams to provide requirements for the purchase of the software needed to build these solutions as well as sit on the panel to ensure we were confident that the solution being procured would support our design and accessibility needs. 

        Outcomes Delivered  

        • An integrated user experience framework the NDIA can reuse (whether it is a new feature or a new portal) independent of any technology and scalable to support various time and financial constraints; 
        • An accessibility-first mentality and series of processes within the O-CIO when developing public-facing products; 
        • A high-quality, accessible and usable mobile application, simplified and aimed at the essentials in your pocket provided by the NDIS; 
        • An accessibly built, modern UI component library to further expand and improve features as the agency evolves; and 
        • a large group of recruited users available to generate insights and validate concepts.