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This Things I Believe

Open Government with Principles

Government Digital Principles


Putting the public [user] first, in delivering digital public services.

  • Digital by Default
  • Putting Users First
  • Learning from the Journey
  • Building a Network of Trust
  • Moving Barriers Aside
  • Creating an Environment for Technology Leaders to Flourish
  • Don't Do Everything Yourself (You Can't)

It sounds delightful, doesn't it?

An open government with clearly stated principles? [digital or otherwise]

Like the opposite of Brasil [the movie, not the country.] 

My mate Ben is giving it a go - he's the new Head of Design at the UK's Government Digital Services [GDS].

[congrats btw mate. That's really, really awesome.] 

[Ben once won me in a competition.

It's true.

His old agency won the best branding idea for the Orange Business awards and we were their agency and they won an ideas workshop with me.

I suspect they liked the money they got more.

But I think it was a fun workshop because, well, we're still friends.] 

He's precipating a bit of a revolution, taking some of thinking about beta and transparency and openness and collaboration and all that lovely stuff we've been cluetraining at clients for the last decade or so, and applying straight to the government.

And it's looking rather lovely so far.

After the digtial principles above, they published these design principles a few days ago:

  1. Start with needs*
  2. Do less
  3. Design with data
  4. Do the hard work to make it simple
  5. Iterate. Then iterate again.
  6. Build for inclusion
  7. Understand context
  8. Build digital services, not websites
  9. Be consistent, not uniform
  10. Make things open: it makes things better

You can almost certainly apply these to whatever it is you do [Advertising for example. Or anything. Probably.] - so why not go have a look at the full explanation of each

Go read this blog post Ben wrote explaining what they are doing too. It's great. 

They even published a colophon of the technology stack.

[Do you know what a colophon is?

I didn't.

In publishing it's a little note in the book that tells you about how it was printed or made, what fonts were used and that.

So, in this instance, it's the people behind the Government Digital Service, showing us what technologies were used to make the Government Digital Service.] 

This is really lovely stuff, good work Great Britain, a digital initiative to be proud of.