Winnie Kwan, Manager, Digital Design and Development, GovTech, Singapore

Women in GovTech Special Report 2016.

How do you use technology to improve citizens' lives? Tell us about your role or organisation. I am with GovTech’s Digital Design and Development team, also known as DCube. We work with other government agencies to roll out citizen-centric apps and solutions. I am fortunate to be able to take on a variety of roles in different types of projects, from technical hands-on development to product and stakeholder management. I am part of the development team for an in-house mobile app. While the target audience of the app (this is intended for public officers) is slightly different from our usual citizen-facing apps, it is very satisfying to see the product come together, knowing that the app will equip other officers to make better decisions in their policy and operations work. I also take on the role of product manager for other projects. For example, there was a user experience project where the client agency wanted to enhance its service delivery with digital platforms and encourage citizens to move towards digital channels. The project was especially invigorating as the agency was open to transformational solutions, and we could explore new ways for government agencies to engage and interact with citizens. What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2016? The most exciting thing I worked on would be the user experience project, where I had the opportunity to work alongside UX designers to conduct user research and usability testing. For many of our projects, we invite users to our premises to participate in user tests. In this case, however, our team went out into the field to observe their behaviour and interact with users in their natural setting. This gave us a much more acute understanding of their needs and pain points, which enabled us to design a better solution. Another interesting aspect about the project was that we designed for a relatively new channel - a chatbot. This brought in a slew of interface and user experience challenges, such as maintaining an uncluttered interface within a chat-like environment, and choosing simple yet engaging language that is able to bring out the chatbot’s character. The team was involved in lengthy discussions to iron out the details, and it was worth it to see users’ faces light up when they tested the system. I hold this experience close to my heart because I notice people are increasingly comfortable with interacting with chatbots, which opens up new possibilities of delivering government information and services. With chatbots, citizens can get the information they need immediately, instead of navigating through several websites, and communicate conveniently with the government. What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2017? One area that I have a growing interest in is behavioural insights. It’s certainly not a new domain, but as I become more exposed to user experience, I learn how simple changes can make a big difference to system usability. Complementary to user experience, I believe behavioural insights will play a critical part in helping users find what they need and make better choices. If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2016, what would it be? Who is your hero and why? It’s hard to pinpoint one thing I have learnt. Being in GovTech, we are exposed to a variety of projects and face new challenges everyday. It is a continuous learning process. One aspect that I am thankful to my boss and team for the supportive and nurturing environment they have created. This gives me the courage to experiment and try new things, knowing that it is okay to fail, and more importantly to learn from the experience and improve. So on this note, I want to tell fellow designers and developers that every idea is valuable. Don’t be afraid to give these ideas a go, no matter how silly they may seem. And finally, if you could recommend us one place to eat, where would it be? Well, nothing beats coming home to a home-cooked meal and a bowl of hot piping soup. I also have a soft spot for dessert, and one favourite place is Creamier for their soft and freshly-made waffles and ice cream!