Tim Paul

Building design capability through training

A GDS Design training day A GDS Design training day

The challenge #

After the launch of GOV.UK in 2012, the number of in-house service teams in government started to grow rapidly.

These teams needed to design services for GOV.UK following agile and user centred design methods.

Some people in these teams were new to these methods, had never worked in government, or had never designed for the GOV.UK website.

Our challenge was to support those individuals.

My role #

Between 2012 and 2014 I worked on 5 of the exemplar services that GDS partnered with other departments on.

This experience meant that I had a good understanding of the design skills required and how to integrate design into an agile team.

Together with some colleagues, we decided to create and deliver a training course to share this experience with more teams.

My main focus was on the Interaction Design and Prototyping modules, though I regularly led the course and facilitated other modules.

The approach #

I worked with a small team to write, plan and then deliver a 3 day User Centred Design training course for people who were new to UCD in government.

The course was designed to be as part of a designer's onboarding experience when joining a department.

The first two days of the course covered the basics of service and interaction design, content user research, agile and accessibility.

A paper prototype A paper prototype

The final day introduced people to prototyping methods - using pen and paper, in the broswer and with the GOV.UK Prototype Kit.

We taught people about the history of public sector design in the UK, the role of design in government, about designing in an agile team, and presented case studies from 2 designers in government.

We also taught people practical skills like journey mapping, running design crits and prototyping.

The course went through many many iterations - we used each training day as a research opportunity, and involved participants in the ongoing development of the course.

The outcome #

The course was extremely popular (every session was oversubscribed) and the methods and tools that we introduced people to are still widely used in government departments.

We ran it for about 3 years - an average of once every 2 months, with each 3-day course attracting about 20-30 people.

By October 2017 we had trained over 300 people from 24 different departments, a significant proportion of the UCD practitioners in government.

Thanks to... #

This was a community led project involving many designers in GDS over the years, but the original core team was myself, Caroline Jarrett, Clara Teoh and Joe Lanman. Clara in particular deserves a huge shout out, for continuing to develop and run this course (and others like it) for another two years after I stepped back.

Tim Paul