Design maturity results

September 2022

The results of the design maturity survey carried out in the Department for Education in September 2022


Overall, in 2022, DfE showed a mixed level of maturity in design-related aspects, with room for improvement in various areas, including setting specific design goals, increasing leadership support, and establishing consistent design processes and career development paths.

Notes on results data

The percentages in the table represent the proportion of respondents who selected each response category.


1. Does DfE have any of the following types of design goals?
Measure Response % of responses
No goals 8 17%
General design-related goals describing what design should be or achieve 28 60%
Specific, well documented goals 8 17%
Prioritised goals indicating which are the most important 1 2%
A roadmap or plan for how to achieve organisational design goals 2 4%
2. When are design activities included in planning?
Measure Response % of responses
Design is not included in planning schedules 5 9%
This usually happens before a design is implemented 8 14%
This is usually included in planning 21 37%
This is included in planning and prioritised 13 23%
This is always part of early project planning or to at least understand what’s required 10 18%
3. How well is the design profession staffed?
Measure Response % of responses
No staff with specialised design skills or experience 1 2%
Some people with design skills or experience but it's not their main job 3 7%
Dedicated people in design roles, but not enough to do all the work that’s needed or external contractors hired occasionally 37 90%
Enough specialised people and skills to address current work 0 0%
4. How well is design funded?
Measure Response % of responses
No money is spent on internal design staff, external contractors or other design resources 3 7%
Some design work is funded, but there is no dedicated design budget 17 41%
There is some design budget, but it’s not enough 17 41%
There is adequate budget, nearly adequate or even more than enough budget 4 10%
5. Across DfE, what do people think design is?
Measure Response % of responses
People don't know or they have a toxic or problematic understanding of design 3 7%
There is an awareness of the concept of design but limited understanding of the benefits 17 41%
Some people have a good understanding, but many others don't 17 41%
There is a consistent definition of design and is understood across DfE 4 10%
The purpose of design is not only consistent across the organisation, but is applied across departments, services and processes 0 0%
6. How does leadership support design?
Measure Response % of responses
Leadership does not support design in any way 2 5%
Leaders are aware of design but are indifferent to it or even hostile 9 22%
Leadership accepts the need for design but there are some skeptical leaders who aren't convinced or don't provide enough or the right support 25 61%
There is design support at Deputy Director level upwards 5 12%
7. How does DfE encourage people to develop their design career?
Measure Response % of responses
No formal design roles exist 2 5%
Few or no design role but some people are self-motivated and prioritise design work in their normal roles 4 10%
There are some design roles but there are few design people in the organisation 11 27%
Job profiles and career paths exist but personal growth and development isn't tracked or understood well 17 41%
Job profiles and career paths for some design roles are well defined and understood throughout DfE 6 15%
Job profiles and career paths exist for all design roles (content, service and Interaction design) but also for supporting roles in Design Ops or Research Ops 1 2%
8. How does DfE plan to continue to improve the design profession in future?
Measure Response % of responses
No design work is being done 1 2%
Design work is done haphazardly, there is little to no effort to evaluate or improve how it's done 4 10%
Some teams are working towards improving their own work but not all teams are doing the same 31 76%
Plans are in place to repeat and improve design work across DfE in all teams 5 12%
9. How and when are design methods used in DfE?
Measure Response % of responses
No design or research methods are used 2 3%
A few are used but not consistently 17 24%
Design methods are used throughout the delivery lifecycle not just at the end 25 36%
Established and documented methods are used across teams 9 13%
A wide variety of methods are being used well 13 19%
Design methods are being used outside of traditional digital teams, for example, finance teams, strategy, policy, support teams, operational teams 4 6%
10. How do non-design people perceive design?
Measure Response % of responses
No design work is done or it's not talked about 3 7%
Among non-design roles, design is noted but not accepted or supported 5 12%
Some people in non-design roles are curious and want to be involved but most don't support it 14 34%
Most non-design roles accept and support design but it varies across DfE 16 39%
Non-design roles have strong respect for design and work alongside design roles on various activities 3 7%
11. How is design work kept consistent across teams and projects?
Measure Response % of responses
It isn't: The only common thread is not knowing or caring about it 2 5%
Inconsistently: there are many inconsistencies across design within and across projects 31 76%
Consistently: Design process is similar or consistent across teams and projects 7 17%
Systematically: There are established, successful frameworks across DfE which are shared, maintained and improved by everyone 1 2%
12. How does design impact the final outcome?
Measure Response % of responses
Not at all, there is no design work being done so there is no impact 1 2%
Weak: Design does not have a strong impact or positive outcome on design quality due to politics, constraints or lack of experience 10 24%
Moderate: Teams are trying to produce high quality work and many are successful 19 46%
Strong: Many or all of the design work produced is of high quality and meets required standards 10 24%
Very strong: Designs are good, they lead industry and design community standards 1 2%
13. How are quantitative metrics used to measure design quality?
Measure Response % of responses
No measurable indicators of design quality are defined 17 31%
At least a few design metrics are collected and discussed 21 38%
Design metrics are collected regularly and tracked over time 8 15%
Design metrics are shared throughout DfE 1 2%
Design metrics are shared with decision makers 4 7%
Design metrics influence decisions 4 7%