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Design principles - Alpha

Very shortly we're going to release an alpha version of design principles. I thought I'd explain some of the thinking behind them in advance of that release.

Firstly, why design principles?

If you've spoken to anyone from the GDS design team over the last few months you'll have heard us using the term GEL. This comes from the BBC GEL which is a great example of a set of web design guidelines.

However, the term can be slightly confusing. Global, experience and language can all have slightly different meanings to the one we want here. So we've opted to use  the simpler and clearer design principles descriptor.

When we release you'll notice that they are very alpha. It's a first draft of a set of principles that will evolve to be the guide we will all reference when designing digital services. At the moment it's a first stab at that.

Looking at it your first comment may well be: 'why haven't you covered this?'. The reason will probably be that we haven't got there yet. We believe that we should talk through our work and so we have only documented decisions we've made so far. So for example, it won't cover transactions because we don't have enough work yet to be able to write a set of principles for that.

We've also indicated whether something is experimental, likely to change or tried and tested. This is because we've done things that we are planning to change but we still want to explain why we made those decisions.

We do hope the document will explain the foundations of our design process and then give examples of where we've used that principle in the work we've done so far.

This could be an internal document but we believe it will get better if we share it. As ever we'd love to hear your feedback, specifically what you think is useful, and what you'd like to see included in further versions.

You can now read more as we have released the alpha of our design principles.

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  1. Comment by GOVUK Design Principles – first thoughts | Digital by Default posted on

    [...] have talked alot about a Global Experience Language in the same way as the BBC do  and although they (very) recently discussed moving away from using that term I guess I was expecting something much [...]

  2. Comment by Russell posted on

    Nice to see someone setting out a process. It's something that I think has been missing from the industry for a long time. We've (Content Hub) were inspired by Deiter Rams principles of good desgin and are producing our own set of principles and processes. Would be interesting to see how they compare.

    How did you start this? Did you consider what your subjective views are of design or did you do some qualitative research from target audiences?

  3. Comment by David Chassels posted on

    Good thinking here so do you understand the art of the possible in building solutions?
    I guess the start you are talking is about web page build driven but behind every web form there are transactional requirements - workflow, rules, audit trail, reporting etc. All industries plan projects based upon the capabilities ready to use. The design sets the scene to deliver the final product. Custom coding is now largely removed to build exactly what the end user design requires. But as ever as build takes place new ideas will emerge and new capabilities readily cater for this so you design does not need to be too detailed – unless of course you are thinking of using programmers to drive build but that’s not the future?
    Look forward to seeing your ideas we might be able to add to your thoughts looking at
    transactional requirements but really should all be in one framework otherwise danger of being complex mix of components?