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Sponsorship Form

Government service bringing workers and students to the UK

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The Project

Sponsorship is a government Service which allows universities and organisation to bring students and workers to the UK. There was already a service being used but the system was outdated, clunky which a lot of work arounds to carry out tasks. With Brexit there has been and increase in sponsorship application and the need to better the User experience was more pressing.

I worked immediately with content, interaction designers and as well as user researchers. 

Duration: 7 months

Methods: Usability Test, Research analysis, Identifying User needs, Sketching, User flows, A|B Testing, Prototyping in code, Amigoing tickets for development.

Tools: GOV.UK Prototyping kit, Mural, Jira, Confluence, Trello.


With Brexit, a lot more organisations were using the sponsorship service to help bring people to the UK for work and studies. The current Point based system didn't have the best User experience with a lot of work around in order to perform tasks. The Project was in the Limited Private Beta 1 phase where it was due to go live with a select user group. 

In this project i worked on various areas of the service from making payments, working on specific routes, updating details, changes of circumstances and stopping a sponsorship..  

The Problem

Government Authorised Exchange

- Form submission

There are many different Routes in which someone can be sponsored under in order to come to the UK. GAE is the route that i worked on which was going to go live with initally. This was a small enough pool to to introduce the new service to.

In the currently Sponsorship Management System (SMS) the form was presented as a long form. Research showed that some new users were more prone to having errors in the form where as the more experienced users produced a template to help them complete the form. Users were terrified off making an error when it came to submitting forms to the Home Office so ensuring that the form was as clear as possible would reduce the users pain points as well as save them the financial ramifications of making an error.

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Current SMS


Understanding the current -Completing a form

Before starting any work, I researched the guidance and policies on GAE route to help me have a better understanding of the current route. This allowed me to identify any gaps in my knowledge and would pose these question to the stakeholders.

User flows 

After understanding the journey a user would take to complete a form and the information that needed to be captured, I mapped out a flow for the GAE route. This was split into 2 sections to group the information in a clear way for the user; Job details and Worker details.



Although the Job details were fairly straightforward there was a some routing needed in the workers details to make sure pages were shown dependant on the options selected.


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I usually start the design process with low fidelity sketches. This is the way I iterate through many design options quickly to then chose the one most centred to the users.

The sketches were adherent to the the current GOV.UK design system which is a must for services to follow.



Once the flow was mapped out and several conversation with the developers to see if the design was feasible, I went on to designing the UI of the screens in the GOV.UK prototyping kit and getting the prototype ready for user testing.

Once the screens were designed, I collaborated with the content designer to ensure copy was clear and concise for the users as well as going through the prototype with the researchers and explaining what we aim to learn through the round of research, helping inform their discussion guide.

User Testing

The design tested well with users that were more experienced with the system and knew if an employee would need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, to study certain subjects in the UK. This did not test so well with users new to the system.

In the form, when a sponsor is applying for a position under the GAE route there is an instance where the sponsor would need to make sure the person applies for an ATAS certificate. This was posed as a question on a screen asking the sponsor if the sponsee needed an ATAS certificate. This was confusing and didn't test well with users new to the system because they didnt know if the employee needed an ATAS certificate.

Using logic

There are conditions that need to be met which would require an ATAS certificate this is based on the organisation having the licence to apply for students, person being sponsored's nationality, SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) code, research at PHD level and CAH code.

So using logic we designed a flow which would reveal the ATAS question only once the other criteria's were met as opposed to asking the question outright.

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Once the flow was mapped out and several conversation with the developers to see if the design/logic was feasible, I went on to design the screens in the GOV.UK prototyping kit with routing in the pages which would show dependant on the selected CAH code.

Final design

Feedback from research

After iterating, and including the logic in the designs, the designs tested well with both experience and inexperiences users.

  • Users mentioned that they ended up losing a great deal of money and having to complete a new form because of the error and was extremely happy that we had reduced the potential error in the form positively impacting the users experience.

  • Many users testing the designs mentioned that they would happily stop using their immigration lawyers to complete the form as they felt it was clear enough for them to complete themselves.


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