Ben Terrett on changing a culture through digital design

Posted 21st December 2013 • By Design Indaba • Topic Information Design • Category Talks in Design Indaba TVDesign Indaba Conference 2013
Digital designer Ben Terrett explains his inspiration and design process in creating Gov.uk, an all-inclusive website for government services and information.
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Digital designer Ben Terrett won the Designs of the Year 2013 award for his redesign of the United Kingdom government website, Gov.uk. At Design Indaba Conference 2013, Terrett spoke about how he redesigned the website and the fundamental digital design principles it drew upon.

Working as the head of design for government digital service at the Cabinet Office, Terrett’s main aim is to make the government work better for the people. With a focus on the user, Terrett called for a revolution rather than an evolution for the website design. The result saw the existing 2 000 websites across UK government transformed into a single site, providing a one-stop destination for all the information residents may need.

The idea that “government should only do what only government can do” inspired the design principles of the website: Start with needs. Do less. Design with data. Do the hard work to make it simple. Iterate and then iterate again. Build for inclusion. Understand context. Build digital services, not websites. Be consistent, not uniformed. Make things happen, it makes things better.

The first step in the design process saw Terrett designing the entire website in one typeface (New Transport), size and colour. “Design can allow you to hide or highlight things”, said Terrett and emphasised the importance of knowing an attractive website from a useful one.

Terrett believes that Gov.uk is the best place to find government services and info; offers a simpler, clearer and faster platform for people to get what they need from the government, and offer step-by-step guides that make complicated processes easier to understand. Gov.uk places all government announcements, publications and policies on one website and enables residents to gain easy access to what the government is currently working on and to stay updated to changes that may be happening through the country.

 

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Ben Terrett is head of design at the Government Digital Service, Cabinet Office for the UK Government.