The Launch of Cohorts

Today I helped launch Cohorts, a service of Ad Hoc that allows us to conduct incisive research with groups of relevant people to make government digital services work better for all.

Here’s some snips from the launch blog post:

There are two components to Cohorts — finding the right people and conducting the right research.

On the people side, we have a system for recruiting, managing, and rewarding Cohorts members. The software we built is based on the Kimball project from the Smart Chicago Collaborative. My Ad Hoc colleague Chris Gansen and I created Kimball back in 2012 to support the launch of the CUTGroup, which was a new model for UX testing, digital skills development, and community engagement in civic tech. We forked the code for Kimball, modified it for Cohorts, and re-published it as open source.

On the research side, Cohorts is at the center of our growing user research practice. Our full-time researchers, along with our partners and clients, conduct interviews with Americans all over the country about broad topics like veterans and their health, clinicians and quality measures, and specific interface questions around the text on a login screen. We do this work in the context of large projects for our existing clients, and we also offer smaller, research-only engagements.

News: Proposed CUTGroup Testing of Ventra App

cta-tweet-logo_reasonably_smallToday the Chicago Transit Authority announced their partnership with Smart Chicago on testing their new Ventra app. Here’s a snip:

Smart Chicago is a civic group that is devoted to improving lives through technology. Its Civic User Testing Group has tested more than a dozen apps. The CUTGroup will create a pool of testers to use the app in real life to buy fares and manage their accounts by smartphone, providing valuable feedback to CTA, Metra and Pace ahead of beginning the first, larger group of public testing.

Testing includes functions to purchase fares, manage transit accounts and get real-time arrival and departure information for all three transit providers, all functions that will be launched in the first phase of the app.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the development of the region’s first-ever transit app and contribute meaningfully to the product that hundreds of thousands of transit customers will use every day,” said Smart Chicago Executive Director Daniel X. O’Neil.

The Publication of The CUTGroup Book

Today marks the publication of The CUTGroup Book, centered around propagating the components, tools, and methods of our Civic User Testing Group (CUTGroup) program. Here’s a snip from the launch blog post over at Smart Chicago:

The CUTGroup is a set of regular Chicago residents who get paid to test civic apps. We started the program in February 2013 and it has grown to include 800 people. We’ve learned a lot and we want to share.

We cover the hardware and software you need, methods for tester and developer recruitment, test design, location scouting, and results analysis. We show detailed budgets, exact website configurations, complete text of recruitment emails, the raw results of every test we’ve conducted, and all the other nuts and bolts it takes to make a CUTGroup in your city.

You can download a PDF of the book for free or order it as a real book on Amazon. Also read about the contributions of dozens of people who made this thing happen.