BETA's Form-a-Palooza transforming forms for Innovation Month

BETA's Form-a-Palooza transforming forms for Innovation Month

Domestic Policy Behavioural Economics
Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Head and shoulders image of Professor Michael Hiscox. He is smiling and standing in front of a lectern. There is a banner in the background that reads: BETA. The text on the image reads: Form-a-palooza.

For many Australians, forms are the most common interaction they have with government—but it’s not always an easy, straightforward experience.

While designing a good form might sound simple, there is actually a wealth of literature, thinking and design that goes into it.

It’s not easy to strike a balance between gathering useful information and being quick and easy for citizens to navigate.

That’s why the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) held Australia’s first one-day festival of forms—Form-a-Palooza—to help public servants across government design better forms.

At the event, the team at BETA launched a brand new framework for better form design—the WISER framework—based on the latest research and their experiences working with agencies on forms, letters and other communication.

The framework takes to heart the theme of Innovation Month 2019 – ‘Test. Fail. Learn. Deliver’ – with a focus on iterative design, evaluation and testing. The framework encourages public servants to understand their clients, simplify language and processes, and then test whether their revisions really have made the process easier for clients.

The event offered a practical example of how we can innovate and ‘test what works’ even in longstanding core functions of government.

Form-a-Palooza first originated in the US, by The Lab @ DC, where a team of academics, officials and members of the public worked to improve as many government forms as they could.

The Australian version saw BETA deliver a masterclass in form design to public servants, to help share these skills across government and improve forms across the board. In the true spirit of Innovation Month, speakers and sessions also served up some classic examples of what not to do when designing forms.

The event attracted over 200 participants from 38 agencies to learn new skills and workshop improvements to five government forms.

These agencies collect millions of forms from Australians every year—so improvements to their forms can have a big impact. 

Find out more about Form-a-Palooza, watch back key sessions, and access tools and resources for better form design, by visiting the BETA website.

For more information on Innovation Month 2019, visit Innovation at Govspace.