gov.uk Design Principles

Recently Gov.uk won design of the year, which is discussed on Design Observer. I love that Government Digital Services decided to publish their design principles that clearly lay out how they tackled such an enormous project.

Start with needs*

Do less

Design with data

Do the hard work to make it simple

Iterate. Then iterate again.

Build for inclusion

Understand context

Build digital services, not websites

Be consistent, not uniform

Make things open: it makes things better

As a huge fan of open source in general, I feel designers (and PM’s, devs, etc.) do their part when they publish lessons learned and case studies. This list of principles applies to everyone working on the web now, and it is something our clients should read to understand the process. Honestly, I am pretty sure these principles (and handy examples) apply to more than just web nerds. For instance:

Government should only do what only government can do. If someone else is doing it — link to it. If we can provide resources (like APIs) that will help other people build things — do that. We should concentrate on the irreducible core.

We’ll make better services and save more money by focusing resources where they’ll do the most good.

In the future I am going to do more to document my process—not only to share, but to improve and grow. My biggest takeaway from this list was the last:

Make things open: it makes things better

We should share what we’re doing whenever we can. With colleagues, with users, with the world. Share code, share designs, share ideas, share intentions, share failures. The more eyes there are on a service the better it gets — howlers get spotted, better alternatives get pointed out, the bar gets raised.