Renew a patent, trademark or design alpha reassessment report

Government Digital Service

February 11
10:28 2020

From: Government Digital Service
Assessment date: 31/01/2019
Stage: Alpha reassessment
Result: Met
Service provider: Intellectual Property Office

The service met the Standard because:

  • the team has improved their research and evidenced a clear understanding of the user needs which resulted in further advancement of the personas and served as a basis of the service design improvement
  • the team has produced the necessary plans for KPIs to be achieved and supported once the service goes public and for the support team to react appropriately to a support query when necessary
  • the team is doing great work iterating the service on an ongoing basis

About the service


This is part of a wider service about Intellectual Property (IP) rights. This system covers renewing UK patents, trademarks and designs. It is consolidating three separate renewal processes (two online, one paper) into one system. Where these are renewed online, and within the given deadline, the new system will give an automatic result.

Service users

The users of this service are the citizens, businesses and intermediaries in the UK and overseas which apply for or manage intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks and designs).

User needs

The team presented a considerable amount of work, showing how user research has been to used to develop an understanding of users and their needs, and to inform the design. They have used a good variety of research methods, including surveys, interviews and lab testing. The panel was impressed with how the team is using user research and user testing to continuously iterate and improve the design of the service.

In terms of understanding user needs, the team now have a strong base to build on. They have developed four user personas, and the researcher has put a considerable amount of work into this process, including attending external training and consulting with other departments on their approach. They have a set of clearly articulated user needs. They have also developed a user panel that they can draw on for research. The panel recommends continuing to work with other departments, to support and challenge the teams thinking about their service.

The team are aware that their high volume/bulk customers can dominate their thinking. The panel would recommend continuing to make sure that research done with professional, bulk, frequent users is balanced out by research done with smaller organisations and infrequent users. This will be particularly important as the team develops the process for first-time users.

The team is considering assisted digital and digital inclusion issues for their service, and have carefully plotted research participants on the digital inclusion scale. We would encourage them to continue thinking about inclusion and how this relates to their services. In particular, we would recommend that the team looks gathers insight from existing customer service touch points e.g. intellectual property specialist centres and telephone-based customer service.

For the next stage, the panel would recommend considering the following areas:

  • think about the life cycle, from initial registration through multiple renewals, and the implications of this for design; in particular, think about where the service fits within the wider ecosystem of business processes
  • think about simple segmentation of the user base and the teams depth of understanding in these different areas
  • continue to do research with infrequent users/organisations
  • use insight from customer service to improve guidance and general information
  • at this point, the team have spent a lot of time on personas and may want to pause there - if considering developing personas for internal users, they should quantify the costs and benefits of developing personas for niche users


The team is engaged with the GOV.UK content team and have iterated and improved the journey from GOV.UK making it easier for users to get to the service if they dont need guidance.

Use of design patterns was consistent with GOV.UK. If the accordion does not perform well in usability testing we would encourage the team to explore other interaction patterns for reviewing renewals.

The team is working closely with GOV.UK Notify to share design patterns around uploading documents and plan to iterate this further.

Theyre keen to improve the renewals process and work with legal teams to question existing processes. Theyve begun research with staff who process applications and respond to calls.

It was good to see that the existing paper forms have been iterated and combined. The panel was concerned about removing the ability to make multiple returns with one form. Although having to fill in multiple forms encourages digital take up, the team should consider whether theyre making it harder for users who cannot use the digital service.

The team is using GOV.UK Notify and are looking into using GOV.UK Pay.


The team is planning to measure the mandatory KPIs, using the existing online service for patents as a baseline. They will publish the data on the Performance Platform.

The team have done a lot of work since the first review and all the analytics related recommendations were covered. The team has shared the details on the digital take-up with the panel; how they measure success and how this process can be shared and used for other services going forward. After the first alpha assessment the team has gone through the recommendations in detail on measuring success and have clearly articulated the outcomes that they want to achieve from the service.

The team must also consider how they will measure the analytics; they currently use Motomo for other services (with different needs) and the team must consider whether this is the right solution for this service. The team also plan to use google analytics as this provides insight on IPO cross-service analysis.

The panel suggests the team should engage a performance analyst for the service.


To pass the next assessment, the service team must:

  • conduct research with contact centres/customer support, to learn more about customer needs and pain points
  • do more research with individual users not represented by agents, and smaller, infrequent users
  • organise a performance framework workshop with Government Digital Service analytics

The service team should also:

  • continue to seek support and mentoring from other departments, to inform thinking

Digital Service Standard points

Point Description Result
1 Understanding user needs Met
5 Iterating and improving the service on a frequent basis Met
12 Creating a simple and intuitive service Met
13 Ensuring consistency with the design and style of GOV.UK Met
16 Defining KPIs and establishing performance benchmarks Met
Published 11 February 2020

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