Sludge Toolkit

Resources to help you address frictions in your government services, improving customer experience.

BIU Sludge Illustration

What is sludge?

Sludge is excessive or unjustified friction that makes it harder for customers to achieve their goals. It impacts customer satisfaction, trust and access to services. It also prevents us from fulfilling the NSW Customer Commitments

By removing sludge, you can make your government services easier to access and use. You can help your customers achieve their goals and make your services more fair and inclusive. 

Sludge in government can look like

Information that is hard to find or understand
  • Conflicting or outdated information 

  • Complex language, jargon and slang 

  • Websites that are hard to navigate 

Lengthy forms and processes
  • Unnecessary steps or requests for information 

  • Forms that must be printed and scanned 

  • Excessive and unexplained wait times

Design that leads to feelings of anxiety
  • Unexpected and unnecessary requests for sensitive information 

  • Hidden terms and conditions 

  • Unnecessary or confusing compliance requirements 

Design that is not inclusive
  • Websites that are incompatible with screen readers 

  • Information that is only available in English 

  • Steps that can only be completed in-person, or only online 

Start your sludge journey

I want to identify sludge in my service

The NSW Government sludge audit method helps you identify and quantify sludge in a customer journey. Findings from a sludge audit can inform service improvements that make it easier for customers to achieve their goals. 

After you have done a sludge audit, you will:

  • understand where sludge is making it harder for your customers to achieve their goals
  • see data quantifying the impact of sludge on your customers
  • know where you can make changes to improve the customer experience.

The sludge audit method was developed by the NSW Behavioural Insights Unit in the Department of Customer Service.

I want support to start a sludge audit

The Behavioural Insights Unit (BIU) supports teams across NSW Government to identify and remove sludge from their customers’ experience. Based on your needs, this support could include:

  • providing advice and resources
  • introducing your team to the sludge audit method
  • reviewing your progress on sludge audits and helping you understand the results
  • providing tailored support as your team completes sludge audits.

Email the BIU for support

I want to remove sludge to improve the customer experience

The sludge guides are full of practical, evidence-based techniques for designing service improvements. The guides cover letters and emails, websites, forms, text messages, apps, and phone and face to face interactions.

Use these sludge guides (PDFs) to help you make service improvements

Illustration of woman with red hair

Reducing sludge on websites

Make your websites accessible, clear and easy to use. 

Man posting letters

Reducing sludge in letters and emails

Make your letters and emails purposeful, clear and designed with your customers’ needs in mind. 

Illustration of man on laptop

Reducing sludge in forms

Make your forms easy to find, understand, complete and submit. 

Illustration of woman on a landline

Reducing sludge on the phone and face-to-face

Make your phone and face-to-face interactions simple, easy and effective. 

Illustration of woman receiving multiple messages

Reducing sludge in text messages

Make your text messages clear, simple and credible.

Illustration person juggling tasks

Reducing sludge in apps

Make your apps accessible, clear and easy to use.

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