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Government Digital Service Design Principles

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The United Kingdom government's design principles and examples of how they have been used. Each principle includes links to articles with additional explanation and reflections.
1. Start with user needs
2. Do less
3. Design with data
4. Do the hard work to make it simple
5. Iterate. Then iterate again
6. This is for everyone
7. Understand context
8. Build digital services, not websites
9. Be consistent, not uniform
10. Make things open: it makes things better

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Editable source files available

About this resource




United Kingdom

Date Published



Open Government License


Web-based resource

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5 reviews for "Government Digital Service Design Principles"

  1. This toolkit offers ten guidelines to keep in mind when designing digital services. It is made of a short and simple explanation of each step, completed by blog posts written by external stakeholders. The user is thus free to stick to guidelines to draw inspiration, or to dig deeper for more details, as the toolkit provides resources for each of them.
    This toolkit is particularly helpful in encouraging creativity and innovation, as it draws some ideas from Design Thinking principles (see point 5. “Iterate. Then iterate again.”).
    Although it might be a great start when designing a digital service, this toolkit does not allow to fit to specific policy issues. It gives general guidelines and tools that can be reused in a variety of situations, but stays quite vague and should not let the user forget about the specificities of their own policy issue.

  2. Charles says:

    These ten guidelines are a useful synopsis of elements to keep in mind when designing digital services, although a few could be applied to the world of design more generally. Based on the concept of user-centred design, these guidelines encourage the user’s needs and context to be at the heart of services created, services that are to be open, coherent and simple.
    This simplicity is itself personified by the toolkit that can be read in a few minutes. However, for those looking to go further, there are further readings attached for each section and even downloadable posters available which could look good and be useful to have up around an office.
    This toolkit is therefore a useful reminder or point of reference for one interested or working in digital public service design. If you are looking for a detailed guideline for human-centred design, a more appropriate toolkit may be found courtesy of IDEO at

  3. Marie-Therese Bushige says:

    National governments are setting up digital services to respond to complex governmental and societal challenges in a responsive and agile manner. This toolkit allows you to go through all the steps of agile project management by keeping the user needs of the center. It can be used as a third space between centralized and decentralized IT departments that are triggered by large-scale IT outages, tasks that traditional government IT offices have not been able to handle until now. The toolkit which is very easy to use is not only limited to IT departments; it can be used by everyone in different contexts.

  4. Imagine you are supposed to overcome a political challenge by designing a service. Where would you start? My answer would be: by this toolkit. Indeed, it is clear, easy and reliable. It provides you with 10 insightful suggestions that will help you to orient yourself in the designing process.
    Each suggestion is exhaustive and well explained, but if you need to go deeper, do not worry: each tip is enriched by extra sources (links) where you will find in-depth discussions on the topic.

    The toolkit is provided by GOV.UK, but it can be applied to any situation regardless the country. Indeed, I took these suggestions and repeated them as mantras, even when I was designing service for a social enterprise based in Ghana.

    One nice pro to report: at the end of the toolkit you will find a link to download posters that report the suggestion in a fun graphic. It is not useful, but it is an appreciable extra.

  5. ritusharma says:

    Indeed as a graphic designer, we just can’t ignore design principles.

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