Why have a design standard?

Design standards are important for establishing a unified and effective approach to creating digital products and services. They ensure that every element of a user's interaction is considered, from initial ideas in discovery, through to the live running of a service.

Having a design standard enables us to:

  • ensure consistency across all digital products and services, providing users with a familiar and intuitive experience
  • enhance usability by focusing on user needs and goals, we make our services more intuitive and easier to use
  • promote accessibility and inclusive design practices, guaranteeing that our services are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities
  • support sustainability by encouraging designs that consider environmental and technical impacts
  • improve performance through continuous monitoring and iteration based on user feedback and data
  • encourage openness and collaboration by sharing our designs and findings openly to improve through collective knowledge

These will ensure as a department, we create user-experiences that are accessible, sustainable, and user-centric.

Proposed standards

The scope of the design standards encompasses all aspects of digital product and service delivery within the department.

1. Establish and define the user experience

User goals, needs, and processes in the design of the product or service must be explicitly defined, mapped, and evaluated.

2. Design for sustainability

Services must be designed to be efficient, and you must consider the environmental and technical impact of what you design.

3. Monitor performance of the design

Analyse and improve the user experience of digital products and services through the qualitative and quantitative collection of usage data.

4. Use the plain language standard

Use the plain language standard, plain English, the DfE style guide to ensure users get a consistent experience, tone of voice and simple language when using our products and services.

5. Design consistently

Develop and adhere to the GOV.UK and DfE design systems. Iterate guidelines for usability, design patterns and components.

6. Track user satisfaction

Collect feedback through surveys, research interviews and usability testing to determine user satisfaction. Set targets for improvement, publish data, and iterate regularly using evidence and data.

7. Design and build for accessible and inclusive design

Ensure that your products and services meet WCAG 2.2 Level AA or higher. Use a combination of user-testing, manual and automated testing, alongside design reviews and crits to ensure cognitive biases are not introduced into design.

8. Work openly

Share your prototypes in the open (where they are not subject to confidentiality restrictions), publishing all prototypes into GitHub, maintaining the prototype list and regularly publishing design history posts detailing evidence for changes and findings from research and usability testing.

Want to discuss these standards?

You can get in touch with the DesignOps team to discuss our work on standards.


  1. Drafting

    Started January 2024.

  2. Profession review

    Not started

  3. Approval

    Not started

  4. Publication

    Not started

  5. Maintenance

    Not started