Morten Winther

Rethinking the letter

Designing a vision for digital interactions for Danish citizens

  • – CASE STUDY

  • Client

    ATP · Danish welfare benefits

  • Year

    2016 – 2017

  • My role

    UX designer

Public sector communication is primarily based on letters, forms, and receipts. But what are the options for creating more interactive and user-friendly communication through digital channels?

The challenge & outcome

Today, the communication between citizens and public Denmark happens on the digital platform called Digital Post. Here, authorities can send information to people securely and digital. However, this information is primarily sent as flat .pdf-versions of a physical letter that would previously have been sent by regular mail. In other words, the communication is not optimized for a digital context and does not exploit the digital possibilities for interactivity, dynamics, and responsiveness.

One of the largest actors in the Danish public sector sought a vision for how they could improve their communication with Danish citizens. We, therefore, provided the client with inspiration and viable concepts based on user insights and business potentials.

My role

As a UX consultant at In2media, I created an ambitious proposal for a vision together with Maria Køhnke in fall 2016. Together with Maria, I executed the creative process with user involvement, stakeholder interviews, and workshops, deconstruction, and analysis of existing letters as well as concept development. We developed a proposal for a new communication paradigm between the public sector and Danish citizens. The proposal consisted of both short-term improvements for making interactive versions of existing letters as well as long-term visions for platform independent, flexible interactions with citizens.

"Morten is a true hybrid of professional competencies: A very inventive, methodically skilled, and analytically strong UX advisor with an impressive flair for visual design. On top of that, he has an extensive understanding of technology. In Morten, you have a creative person who can drive almost all aspects of digital product development as well as a person who loves to go thoroughly in depth with even small details."

Maria Køhnke, former Director of UX and Creative Strategy, Charlie Tango

  • 01 Process
  • 02 A holistic take on letters
  • 03 Content taxonomy
  • 04 Kill the letter

01Project process

Main activities in the project

  • Holistic service design, user journey mapping based on user research.
  • Deconstruction of 600+ existing letters.
  • Mapping of relevant IT systems.
  • Concept development for short-term improvement.
  • Concept visions for future communication strategy.
  • Mangement presentations for client and other relevant stakeholders.

02Understanding the letters
as part of a journey


User journeys to identify issues


To get an understanding of how to improve the letters, we wanted to get insights into the user's perspective. But instead of only zooming in on the individual letters, we also wanted to look at their entire user journeys and interactions across touchpoints. Together with the client, we selected two of their business areas as a beginning point for exploring new potentials and concepts. Based on the user workshops we created "gross" user journeys that showed all the potential steps and interactions a user can have with the chosen business areas. This allowed us to highlight challenges and possibilities in their current service processes.

Understanding content through the eyes of the users


Besides looking at the participants' journeys, we also asked them to look at and read through letters. This was helpful to identify specific wordings and concepts that were difficult to understand. But maybe, more importantly, it helped us understand how people perceive letters from public authorities as old-school and unnecessarily complicated.

03Deconstruction of letters
to create content taxonomy!


Analyzing the content of 600+ letters


To get a better understanding of the actual content, we analyzed more than 600 letters, which we divided into overall categories. Then we deconstructed the letters to get a sense of the different types of content blocks

Content taxonomy


Based on the analysis we developed a categorization of the letters based on the overall purpose and content. This turned out to be an essential tool throughout the project. The client quickly adopted to terminology (eg. "notifications", "blocking letters") and is used widely in the organization today.
Deconstructing letters into content blocks.
Content taxonomy.

04Kill the letter.
Design for flexible interactions!


Interactive messages tomorrow


We presented to clients with concepts that could be quickly implemented as well as more long-term concepts that required collaboration with other actors in the Danish public sector. For both types of concepts, it was essential to leave "the letter" metaphor behind and instead design based on digital conventions. The short-term concepts, therefore, revolved around creating interactive messages with focus on buttons, CTA, and action-oriented language. Another essential component was to use existing data about the citizens to target the content to the individual's specific situation.


Rethinking the platform landscape


To make their communication truly digital, we recommended them to rethink their entire platform landscape and reconsider which content should be distributed where. Inspired by omnichannel strategies, we wanted them to think in platform-independent communication, where data and information can be dynamically presented across platforms. To exemplify how they could achieve this flexible communication we drew up flows to show how incoming and outgoing data should be processed by an intelligent "motor" depending on the user's situation. To achieve this, rules for the motor must be created, which we highly recommended them to do based on the taxonomy, we developed in the project.

We presented the final vision and concept ideas in December 2016. The client was blown away and wanted to begin implementation right away. In January 2017 the first steps towards implementation were taken, and in close collaboration with the client, the project is now being realized in over the next three years.