Research Recruitment & Customer Success
How Consent Kit Helped Nile Achieve Accessibility as a Standard
Written by: Phil Hesketh
Diversity and inclusion are at the core of the work Nile does as a strategic design consultancy. Founded in 2006, the company became a B Corp™ in 2021 in an effort to lead the global movement for an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy. Today, the 62 employees help heavily regulated organisations tackle diversity and inclusion challenges through design, research, and insight.
For Nile, ensuring the research participant journey is accessible and clear is mission critical.
Using Consent Kit helped the research operations team:
Make consent forms accessible and easy to understand for every participant
Decrease the number of touch-points for issuing consent forms by 71%
Reduce the time to consent by 56%
We talked to Victoria Johnston, Design Ops Manager, to learn how Consent Kit helps them create a fully inclusive participant management process.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself? What is your role?
VICTORIA: “I am Victoria Johnston. I am Design Ops Manager here at Nile. We are a strategic design consultancy. We work with a lot of large institutions and organisations as a multifaceted design service. So that could be UX/UI; it could be accessibility; it could be proposition development design. We’re the ultimate problem solvers.
“I’ve been at Nile for five years. I formally became Design Ops Manager about two years ago. My team has now grown to a team of two.”
Thinking back to before you were working with Consent Kit, what challenges were you facing?
VICTORIA: “We do a lot of work specifically in diversity and inclusion and inclusive design, especially in the UK. Engaging appropriately with people who are disadvantaged is core to our work. This is underpinned by making sure that our participant management processes are as inclusive as possible.
“Pre-pandemic, we were doing most of our participant work in person. So it was paper-based forms, usually given to the participant on arrival in our building about 10 minutes before their session started. When we rolled out into remote-first research, we were using [a popular electronic signature app], which was all well and good, but it involved a lot more touchpoints, and it wasn’t compatible with screen readers.
“In becoming a remote-first research practice, we suddenly had a much broader spectrum of participants. We could engage with people who had either vision or physical disabilities — and it was a bit of a shock when I discovered we weren’t being inclusive.
“It’s all very well being an inclusive design practice — but if your participant journey is not inclusive, you’re actively excluding. Consent Kit is key to making sure our participant management processes are as inclusive as possible.”
How does Consent Kit help you ensure your consent forms are accessible?
VICTORIA: “The user interaction on the other end is all screen reader compatible, and it’s in simple plain language. The layout is clear, and the user can come back and amend their consent.
“With Consent Kit, we can make everything much clearer and human-focused. It has allowed us to optimise our wording to be as succinct and clear as possible for every participant, rather than being too abstract.”
And what’s the value of that to end users?
VICTORIA: “People are far more informed about what they are doing. … And just knowing that it’s a fully accessible tool, and we’ve already done all the work to make sure that everybody can fully engage with it, there’s a lot more simplification in the user experience.”
Conversely, what made your previous solution — the electronic signature app — so challenging for issuing and receiving consent?
VICTORIA: “Within [the other app], you would just have the name of the document, ‘Please sign.’ There was no tying that to the participant. It was just far more laborious. It was less intuitive, and we would often have [contracts sent from the app] disappearing, like not dropping into people’s inboxes. Checking up on the consent forms took a lot more time.”
What’s the difference in how you gather consent now that you’ve moved to Consent Kit?
VICTORIA: “We took the number of touchpoints for issuing consent to eight participants from 34 to 10 or less. With one person administering that, that is dropping the volume of work by over a third. So we can increase our consent turnover by an additional two-thirds.
“It’s really changed the way we do things. Before it was very manual, less visible. Thinking back, everything involved a lot more interrogation to check it was correct than with Consent Kit. Now, at a glance, we can see what’s going on.”
Were there other benefits to Consent Kit besides accessibility and making less work for your team?
VICTORIA: “The experience for both the person managing it and the end user is just better and less piecemeal. You front-load your thought work with it. You set it up and it starts to run itself, and the pay-off is giant.
“Previously, project teams would have to find a template on Google Drive, complete the template, get it set up, send it out with [the electronic signature app] — and there might be errors in the content. The templates that we’ve set up in Consent Kit are so explicit around the intention of the research and the retention of information.”
I understand that data security and governance are critically important to Nile. How does Consent Kit help with that?
VICTORIA: “It was a very manual process to go through every month to identify every consent, delete it, and keep a record of the purging. The fact that Consent Kit does this automatically is wonderful.
“And the other thing is that using Consent Kit to communicate with the participants — if there’s anything following on, like information about the session, or chasing them for lack of consent, or reminders — all of that’s done in a secure way where nobody can be accidentally CC’d instead of BCC’d. You can mass-send email with absolute surety that nothing’s going to go wrong in that. It’s so on rails that the margin for error is now so small.”
What has changed for your team since you began using Consent Kit?
VICTORIA: “We have more time to take on other initiatives and improve on projects. To have 50% of our time back means we can embed ourselves in other activities to support the teams and delivery. We’re far more engaged as a team with our delivery team, because we’re not just spending the time doing the consents in the background.”
What would you say to other research ops professionals who want to create more inclusive and diverse research strategies?
VICTORIA: “[Thanks to Consent Kit], we are walking our talk — not just saying we’re more inclusive but knowing that we genuinely are. We can say with great conviction that we are a fully inclusive design practice, and that’s given us so much fodder to move forward and be more vocal about that within the design community. We’ve gone from just practicing inclusivity to leading it as well, and then inspiring others to do the same.
“And the other thing about Consent Kit is that Phil and Ben are so responsive. I manage a lot of tools here, I manage a lot of platforms, and I manage a lot of hiccups, and I have not come across any tool in which I can message [the support team like I can with Consent Kit]. It’s amazing to have that level of engagement from them, that they’re really listening to their customer, and they’ve got the agility to implement things so quickly. It’s hugely valuable to feel like a valued customer with a valid voice.”