San Francisco Public Research Program

Client Need

San Francisco Digital Services partnered with CivicMakers to design the City’s first public user research program after successfully leading and collaborating on the Public Voice demonstration program. The purpose of the user research program is to engage diverse and representative residents to participate in user research, which results in more intuitive, accessible City websites, apps, programs, and services. We were tasked with developing and periodically evaluating program infrastructure for participant outreach and recruitment, community partnerships, participant pool management and test scheduling. Our goal is to streamline the program’s outreach and recruitment operations in order to grow and maintain a ready and representative pool of research participants to participate in a regular cadence of research studies.  In addition, we strive to develop a program that is inclusive to all community members and offers opportunities to meaningfully engage in public research.

Our Approach

CivicMakers employed service design techniques such as journey mapping workshops and user interviews to inform the design of a program. To support outreach, we developed a branding and messaging guide to coordinate consistent communications about the program, designed promotional materials, and coordinated translations. We continue to collaborate with SFDS product managers and community-based organizations across the City to continually iterate on the design of the program in order to optimize everything from the test request process to the end user experience.

In support of digital equity, SFDS and CivicMakers continue to develop partnerships with community-based organizations across the City to better engage and understand the needs of the residents that they serve. Making a concerted effort to reach individuals who most stand to benefit from City digital services, who primarily speak a language(s) other than English, live with disabilities, and/or who have limited digital literacy. We provided consultation on the development of an equity framework to operationalize and evaluate practices and measures as it relates to the representation, inclusion, and engagement of priority populations in the program.


  1. Maintenance of foundational program elements, including messaging, recruitment channels, and outreach templates
  2. Ongoing recruitment of a diverse and representative range of San Franciscans via partnerships with community organizations and broad public outreach. We’ve cultivated partnerships with 6 community-based organizations, which resulted in ~125 new recruits out of 679 total new recruits in 2020, during the pandemic.
  3. Coordination of the design of scheduling user tests and participants
  4. Ongoing program evaluation and refinement.


  • Client: City and County of San Francisco Digital Services
  • Dates: April 2019 – Present
  • Services: Civic Engagement, Communications, Program Evaluation, User Research, Innovation, Digital Strategy, CBO Partnerships
  • Team: Lawrence Grodeska, Cristelle Blackford, Leah Tremblay-Adams, Victor Tran