Hard to be easy: Living by the GDS’ 10 design principles


[From the POSTMKTG archives]

Former Weiden+Kennedy creative Ben Terrett and his team have published – and are publicly revising – a set of design principles intended to guide the development of all digital services provided by the British government. It is an ambitious project, with a goal no less lofty than the “Applization” (or would that be “Applisation”?) of an entire country.

A fool’s quest? Perhaps. But the 10 Design Principles issued by the Government Digital Service (GDS) are worth deep consideration anyway. And not only by developers. As Terrett notes in an interview on It’s Nice That, “People have … said they’re good ideas for anything, not just websites.” I agree.

I’ve adopted, provisionally as I think I should, Terrett’s principles as the rules of POSTMKTG. As some have noted, many of the principles are obvious. For example, principle #1: Start with needs.* But as the asterisk implies, at the beginning, launch and throughout the life of a project, it never hurts to remind oneself whose needs one is talking about. It’s not the needs of the government. Not the needs of a company. Not even the needs of the marketing director who is probably footing the bill. But the needs of the user.

My personal favorite is principle #5: Iterate. Then iterate again. I see POSTMKTG, as Terrett sees his design principles, as an ongoing public ALPHA, always in a state of development, correction, evolution and growth. I see myself that way too.