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Nomensa NHS Digital: Untangling policies and prioritising test access
NHS Digital – Untangling policies and prioritising test access in a pandemic


NHS Digital – Untangling policies and prioritising test access in a pandemic

Supporting NHS Digital in working on the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Client: NHS DigitalSector:
4 minutes, 3 seconds

The last 2 years have been tough for us all. During this period, we’re proud to have supported NHS Digital in working on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Our work on making sense of policies and improving user journeys helped get tests to people who needed them the most.

During the coronavirus pandemic, government policies were constantly changing in response to the unfolding situation. It was a tough time for everyone, and it was crucial to keep testing services up-to-date and make sure those most at risk from COVID-19 could access tests.

At Nomensa we’re proud to have supported NHS Digital in responding to the shifting policy landscape. Our team of interaction designers and project managers joined hundreds of other experts to deliver one of the most used services for Government. Our work helped to get tests to those most in need, and increased public understanding of government policies.

Integrating into cross-disciplinary user-centred design teams, our role was to support on the ever-changing policy. We had to balance strategy, user needs and technical boundaries, and translate these conflicting requirements into designs with the user at the centre of them.

GOV.UK coronavirus content had an average of 14 million weekly views. The ‘Get a coronavirus test’ page was first published on GOV.UK on 30 April 2020. It’s been through many iterations since its launch, and accumulated more than 91 million views by April 2022.

During our time working alongside NHS Digital we supported the response to the Omicron outbreak and the ramp down of universal testing for both lateral flow devices (LFD) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

The Coronavirus page on the website shown on both a large screen and a smartphone.

Understanding the user experience

Since 2020, the Test Team has:

  • Done 285 rounds of user research
  • Seen 1550 research participants
  • Received 2,030,699 survey responses

Making sense of policy changes

The Omicron outbreak at the end of 2021 was one of the biggest spikes in demand on the COVID-19 testing service. It led to test supply issues and rapidly shifting governmental policy changes.

We worked closely with service and content designers to deliver over 100 page of iterations, impacting millions of users a day throughout the Omicron outbreak.

We worked collaboratively to audit user journeys to identify inconsistencies in messaging and get a full understanding of what needed to change. Through holding workshops and sign-off meetings with stakeholders from key organisations, we made sure users were getting the right information at the right time. Using our technical knowledge of the GDS design system, our team helped ensure the continued delivery of service standards, accessibility and cross-service consistency.

Our rapid response to policy changes meant that the public could access relevant information and services, and crucially we helped manage demand for tests to ensure the most vulnerable people still had access.

Collage image. Left side shows a photo of a woman wearing a yellow mask and someone giving the covid vaccine into her arm. Right side shows the website page for 'Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus'.

Taking the confusion out of user journeys

In March 2022 the UK government decided to remove the free universal offer of COVID-19 tests. Over the following months, service updates were needed to implement eligibility criteria and reduce access to free NHS tests.

We were tasked with untangling the often conflicting policy to achieve the best outcome for users.

Our role was to manage the changes in policy for the PCR and LFD journeys. We needed to communicate the changes in policy while managing users expectations and concerns as a result of the updates.

One improvement we made was to how users were routed through content based on their which devolved administration they were in. We saw an opportunity to rework the flow, moving this question to the start of the journey. By getting users to select their country earlier on in the process, we reduced confusion in their journey -they were delivered only the relevant policy information for their devolved administration, where previously they would be delivered policy information for all four.

We made sense of the changing policies, responding quickly to deliver valuable updates. Then, as policies began to stabilise, we iterated to develop more structured service routing. We helped create clearer journeys and managed eligibility to ensure that tests were prioritised for those who needed them most.

Keeping the public safe and informed

Our efforts to improve user journeys and keep policy content relevant and updated played a part in keeping the public safe and informed during the tough times of the pandemic.

Our work contributed to delivering important policy changes to:

  • protect the clinically vulnerable
  • keep critical healthcare services running
  • change the public’s perception around testing

Blue marbled background with a smiley face and the words 'STAY SAFE' underneath

Nomensa’s team were invaluable. Very experienced professionals – it was excellent.

Richard Payne
Practice Lead for Interaction Design at NHS Test & Trace

Let’s work together

We believe that creating groundbreaking experiences that make measurable differences in the way people live takes a special type of collaboration. Our team designs impactful experiences by leaning on the variety of capabilities and expertise within Nomensa to ensure our solution is bespoke to your needs. We believe collaboration is key, let’s work together.

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