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10 things I learnt from 2 years at the Government Digital Service

31c772b39e47f85e6678c1e81953b794?s=47 Tom Byers
August 24, 2014

10 things I learnt from 2 years at the Government Digital Service

A talk about the top 10 things learnt from working on a website that changes every day, is constantly growing and has to work for everyone in the UK.

A text-only version is available at https://github.com/tombye/redevelop-2014-presentation.


Tom Byers

August 24, 2014


  1. Tom Byers
 Front-end Lead 
 Government Digital Service

  2. 10 things GDS Tom

  3. I’m from the Government Digital Service GDS Tom

  4. We’re a team at the heart of government building digital

    public services GDS Tom
  5. We started by building GOV.UK GDS Tom

  6. None
  7. We’re now transforming government services GDS Tom

  8. GDS 25 of government’s biggest services redesigned to meet the

    needs of users Tom
  9. To do that we’re working with digital teams in departments

    all over the country... GDS Tom
  10. As well as building common tools for analytics and signing

    in, improving the way government buys technology, and making sure civil servants have the right skills to run digital by default services GDS Tom
  11. We work in open, agile, multidisciplinary teams, relentlessly focused on

    user needs GDS Tom
  12. 1. Think about access first GDS Tom

  13. How do they get to your content? GDS Tom

  14. GDS Tom

  15. GDS Tom

  16. 2. Learn the tools your users have GDS Tom

  17. How do they use their machines? GDS Tom

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  21. Tom GDS

  22. GDS Tom 1 2 4 3 5 6 7 9

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    9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
  24. GDS Tom

  25. 3. Your design is a tool too GDS Tom

  26. How easy does your page design make it to access

    your information? GDS Tom
  27. GDS Tom

  28. 28 GDS Tom

  29. GDS Tom

  30. “The web is, by its nature, stateless so your design

    needs to give users some context” ! @markhurrell GDS Tom
  31. GDS Tom

  32. 4. Don’t ask bad questions GDS Tom

  33. GDS Tom GDS Tom

  34. Does your form work as a conversation? ! @cjforms GDS

  35. Don’t underestimate how hard a single task can be !

    Think about someone with no prior experience of websites using your forms GDS Tom
  36. GDS Tom

  37. 5. Tasks cannot be too simple GDS Tom

  38. GDS Tom

  39. 6. Text is the primary visual interface GDS Tom

  40. https://www.gov.uk/service-manual GDS Tom

  41. https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/user-centred- design/how-users-read GDS Tom

  42. “Users only really read 20 to 28% of a web

    page” GDS Tom
  43. “You don’t read one word at a time. You bounce

    around. You anticipate words and fill them in.” ! “By the time you’re 9 years old, your brain can drop up to 30% of the text and still understand” GDS Tom
  44. 7. How well you write affects everything you do GDS

  45. GDS Tom

  46. GDS Tom

  47. 8. Screen readers show how good your markup is GDS

  48. GDS Tom

  49. The OS gets this information from your HTML GDS Tom

  50. 9. Progressive enhancement is about resilience as much as it

    is about inclusiveness ! @bradwright GDS Tom
  51. https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2013/10/21/how-many- people-are-missing-out-on-javascript-enhancement/ GDS Tom

  52. 10. What you don’t know yet has the highest value

    GDS Tom
  53. 11. Publish, don’t send GDS Tom

  54. GDS Tom

  55. We believe sharing what we do will make it better,

    so you can see lots of our thinking and working online... GDS Tom
  56. Read more: GDS Blog – http://gds.blog.gov.uk Design Principles – www.gov.uk/design-principles

    Digital Strategy – www.gov.uk/digitalstrategy Service Manual – www.gov.uk/service-manual Performance – www.gov.uk/performance Assisted Digital – http://assisteddigital.blog.gov.uk Digital Inclusion – http://digitalinclusion.blog.gov.uk Our code – www.github.com/alphagov GDS Tom
  57. Attribution: Slide 18 (left) https://www.flickr.com/photos/barkbud/4220648321 Slide 18 (right) https://www.flickr.com/photos/larskflem/503118033 Slide

    19 (left) https://www.flickr.com/photos/larskflem/5088121460 Slide 19 (centre) https://www.flickr.com/photos/kimsandiego/8168063548 Slide 19 (right) https://www.flickr.com/photos/66879463@N00/4946025923 Slide 25 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jason-morrison/1954452273 GDS Tom
  58. Thanks! ! Tom Byers