GDS readies new centralised design platform for GOV.UK services

Written by Sam Trendall on 31 October 2017 in News

New offering, which is entering beta testing, will combine elements of current platforms such as the Service Manual and GOV.UK Elements

The GOV.UK Design System has passed its alpha assessment and is now entering the beta-testing process  Credit: GDS

The Government Digital Service is building a new platform for public-sector bodies to design digital services for GOV.UK domains.

The new platform, dubbed the GOV.UK Design System (pictured above), “will contain all the styles, components, and design patterns that teams in government need to create user-centred digital services”, GDS said. It will bring together pieces of the existing Service Manual and GOV.UK Elements packages for designing services. 

The genesis of the new platform came late last year, when GDS held an event at which various departments discussed their work on design systems.

“Although different departments were working on their own systems, we were all reaching maturity at the same time and were ready to start working together,” GDS said. “We all saw the benefits of working towards a single, federated design system, where people get to develop their own patterns, and contribute them back to the main collection.”

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Following the event, GDS began work on the GOV.UK Design System project, which aimed to “improve and consolidate the patterns and components that are already available”. The alpha testing process saw GDS whittle down the number of design-pattern categories from five to three, as well as taking steps to simplify navigation and adding an alias function to searches – which is designed to allow users to “search using terms they are familiar with”.

The scheme has now passed its alpha assessment, and GDS is working on building a full prototype for beta testing.

“The first step is to create an initial version of the Design System and populate it with all the existing styles, components and patterns. We’ll use this to test and iterate the platform,” GDS said. “We’re also further developing [the] GOV.UK Frontend [toolkit] and looking at linking between it and the Design System, integrating frontend components into the Design System.”

GDS is inviting service teams interested in taking part in an initial beta-testing scheme in which participation will be by invitation only

“Once we’re happy that the GOV.UK Design System is good enough,” we’ll roll it out as a public beta for everyone to try out,” GDS said.

For the time being, public bodies are advised to carry on using the design templates available in the Service Manual and GOV.UK Elements offerings – where new designs continue to be added, GDS said.


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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