Establishing the UK government’s design community

When GDS was founded in 2011, it hired in a small central design team to build and support teams across government with design.

By 2014 it became obvious that this wasn’t going to help scale the kind of transformation needed to build truly user-focused services across government – design needed to grow beyond GDS and into departments across the country so that they could design and deliver services themselves.

When I became Head of Design for GDS I established the role of ‘director of design for Government’ an set about building a community of practice across government.

I established a community of designers in department’s across government, growing the number of designers from a small handful, to over 1000 designers in almost every area of government, making it the largest and most geographically diverse design team in the UK.

I set up GDS’s first team focussed on community development, and together we established a formal government profession, with consistent job descriptions for designers, established design leadership roles across government and promoted the role of Head of Design within these departments to senior civil servant level.

In 2018 I held the first ever public government design meetup at the London Design Museum during the London Design Festival and hosted 12 accessibility, user research and design Meetup’s bringing together over 1500 attendees

The success of the UK government’s design community meant that I could then establish the international government design community.

To Kara Kane, Rosie Clayton, Martin Jordan and Clara Greoh who supported me in building the UK’s biggest design team
Ben Terrett who established GDS’s first design team

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