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Jonathan Melhuish

(recent work)

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Department of Education (2017 - 2019)

My role was originally as a user researcher, starting from the very beginning of the project.

As the project matured, the development team grew, and the leadership understood that my abilities are broader, my role grew to also encompass service design.

I worked on a complex CRM software project to support the campaign to encourage more people to become a teacher.

The project served hundreds of internal and external users, and thousands of members of the public. It was crucial to develop a system that met the needs of all stakeholders.

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Department of Education (2017 - 2019)

Direct Marketing


Call centre

Teacher Training Assistants


Becoming A Teacher

Customers (Prospective Teachers)

  • I began by working directly with leadership to establish a clear scope for the projects, and main objectives.
  • By interviewing staff, I established that there were 37 distinct types of (direct) user of the system.
  • I mapped the main As-Is processes and information flows, and key requirements of each user group.
  • I identified the sister projects and external organizations who form part of the same customer journey.

+ 30 more…

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Department of Education (2017 - 2019)

I interviewed customers and staff at the in-person “Get Into Teaching” events. This allowed me to get a good understanding of the customer’s needs at this stage of their journey, and to see firsthand how the CRM system supports the staff in delivering this experience.

I also interviewed Teacher Training Advisors, who are crucial to providing ongoing support to these customers, and who principally work from home.

As the project progressed, I developed an increasingly detailed set of several hundred user stories to capture the needs of all the user types. I was always vigilant to capture the underlying need - and understand how it will benefit the customers, not the current behaviour, which often turned out to be only necessary to maintain suboptimal internal processes that were currently in place.

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Department of Education (2017 - 2019)

I understood that it was crucial to clearly communicate the user needs to each stakeholder group.

For the software team, I wrote sufficiently detailed, clear and precise user stories in JIRA. My computer science background also allowed me to participate fully in software planning sessions to ensure all relevant needs were being considered when making technical decisions.

I found more appropriate forms of communication for other stakeholders.

For example, here I used a customer journey map to show internal leaders which needs we would meet at each stage of development. This reassured them that they would retain access to the key metrics they needed to lead their teams effectively.

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Department of Education (2017 - 2019)

As the team grew and we started creating prototypes, I played an active role in engaging stakeholders to give us early feedback.

I ran realistic user testing scenarios with multiple user groups, both remotely and in person.

We used a mixture of working code and non-functional prototypes, depending on the difficulty of implementation.

Normally I worked with the UX designer and/or software engineers to create these prototypes. However, when necessary, I also created simple mockups myself, e.g. this example of a public-facing change to the registration flow. This prototype was crucial to ensuring internal decision-makers and external stakeholders were on the same page.

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Department of Education (2017 - 2019)

By creating a solid, accurate understanding of the underlying user needs, I played a key role in the success of the Get Into Teaching CRM project.

My service design contributions help to ensure that this multi-million pound project achieved its potential to deliver a significant improvement in the customer experience, for both internal and external stakeholders.

After I decided to move on from the project, the team successfully cut over from the previous system to our new CRM without serious issues.

The new system was well received by the staff, and the company I was working for was retained to continually maintain and improve it for several years after.

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Makuma (2019 - Present)

When I originally created “Makuma - the connection games” in 2016, I started with lightweight non-digital prototypes to allow us to rapidly iterate the customer experience.

These games were a big success locally, eventually attracting over 100 participants each time, and I led the team of 14 volunteer facilitators.

In 2019, I decided to turn this side-project into a startup and explore how digital technology could help us scale.

I was keen to first establish precise customer needs before writing any code.

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Makuma (2019 - Present)

I hired a researcher with a Psychology background and together we conducted 20 open qualitative interviews on the broad topic of “What’s difficult about relationships?”.

I decided to use the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework to analyse the results, which I had successfully used with clients to identify the most promising customer segments to target.

JTBD has its roots in physical product design, so it wasn’t always easy to apply it to the context of relationships, where almost all of the customer needs are emotional and social.

Nonetheless, we successfully identified 58 clear unmet customer needs that were each expressed by multiple interview participants.

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Makuma (2019 - Present)

The next step was to use quantitative methods to check which of these needs generalise to a broader audience.

I configured an online survey in the powerful open-source LimeSurvey tool (including automatic consistency checks to ensure data quality), and integrated it with a panel provider’s backend systems via their API.

After testing the survey on a small group, we got responses from a balanced sample of 348 participants. This gave us a sufficiently large sample size to produce multiple interesting statistically significant results (p < 0.05).

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Makuma (2019 - Present)

I worked closely with a developer to create our own bespoke clustering software to analyse these data.

We created an interactive web-based visualisation tool that allowed us to explore the customer needs. (see screenshot)

Using this software, we chose to focus our product development on a cluster with particularly strong unmet needs related to loneliness, trust and self-acceptance.

This approach gave us high confidence that the target group we selected was large and likely to take action.

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Makuma (2019 - Present)

I worked directly with a graphic designer to present these research findings in multiple formats, to ensure that they would be fully understood by all members of the team.

I hired two more Psychologists who conducted a thorough literature review to ensure that our product development would be informed by the latest academic research.

Based on these insights, I facilitated brainstorms that generated a large variety of innovative products and services.

We then moved into a prototyping phase: using non-functional mockups and functional digital prototypes to test product ideas with customers and gain deeper insights into their challenges.

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Makuma (2019 - Present)

We used a large variety of tools to rapidly create initial prototypes - whichever was most appropriate.

Among others, we used survey tools to facilitate face-to-face experiences (with insights captured from qualitative exit interviews), Google Ads to get quantitative keyword data from search traffic and Google Optimize to split test multiple variations.

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Makuma (2019 - Present)

v1: Lo-fi UI mockups and style reference images

v2: functional prototype created in low-code tool with some custom Javascript, CSS and graphics

v3: functional mobile-first web app, implemented with Node.js backend and tested on multiple devices

One recurrent theme in interviews with this customer segment was the desire to be invited to social activities, but the fear of being rejected if they propose them. So we created a “Tinder for social activities”, which we progressively developed from an concept into a functioning product, with user testing and interviews at each stage.

I created all the mockups, wireframes and UI designs, and conducted the user testing. I worked directly with my software developers to implement the functional versions, including participating in technical planning, pair programming and code review. I assisted with testing and debugging.

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Makuma (2019 - Present)


Recommender System

user presented with Activity suggestion

user behaviour, input (inc. ratings)


to create activity variations

users create activity descriptions

We implemented a machine learning recommender system to improve the customer experience by presenting the content that was most relevant to their preferences and context.

We are experimenting with using generative AI to create variations of human-generated content based on the user’s input, so that the experience can be further tailored to the needs of each user.

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There’s more.

I’ve done a huge variety of work in the last 24 years.

Within the limits of client confidentiality, I’m happy to share and talk you through it.

Let me know what you’d like to see.