Without voluntary and community sector organisations, there is no service

'Connect families to support' allows professionals working with families to easily connect them with the support they need. This support is provided by voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations, so without them the service will not work.

VCS organisations have a dashboard area within the service where they can go to review, accept or decline requests for support.

Finding problems with our language

User research showed us that our language:

“Doesn’t sound too friendly”

“Might make people anxious”

And another participant said:

“Wow! Very demanding! ... Feels like we have to do something or there will be consequences”

One user had a visceral reaction to being told what to do by a service they did not have to use, and said they just would not use it with language like that.

So that VCS users sign up to the service, use it and keep using it, we need to be nice to them.

Breaking the rules

Previously, we followed the GOV.UK style guide’s recommendation of never saying ‘please’. We know that it saves time to not say it, but it was being interpreted as rude and cold by our users, and putting them off using the service at all.

We added in ‘please’ when we ask users to select a response to a request. It’s a really simple thing, but it makes our service less jarring to use.

We also previously followed design patterns for confirmation pages when requests were accepted or declined, which just said ‘accepted’ or ‘declined’. Now, we say thank you – whatever the outcome. For an accepted request, we’ve changed the confirmation text in the banner to say:

Thank you for accepting this request for support

Request number:


For the decline option, we’ve acknowledged our user’s valuable time:

Request for support declined

Request number: XXXXXX

Thank you for taking the time to respond to this request. We understand you cannot accept every request for support.

Changing the way users decline requests

We changed the ‘decline’ option from ‘our service will not offer support’ to ‘our service is unable to offer support’. This change from ‘will not’ to ‘is unable to’ removes any blame users may associate with the language, and adopts a much more understanding tone.

We’ve also added another ‘please’ when we ask users to give a reason for declining, and provided some examples to help people write useful responses.

Reason for declining

Please give a reason, for example capacity or eligibility. After you decline, you will no longer have access to this request.

You can explore the old language in version 4 of our prototype, and the new language in version 5 (password: proto).

Future considerations

We gathered enough evidence to make these changes, but we have not yet had a chance to test them with users. We’ll keep monitoring the performance of these changes in future user research.