Ben Terrett: Don't make the user do the hard work

In an interview with Design Indaba, Ben Terrett tells how he uses design to make government services simpler.

Head of Design for the United Kingdom Government Digital Service, Ben Terrett's work focuses on creating user-friendly digital public services.

One of his key design principles is: "Do the hard work to make it simple".

Don't make the user do the hard work, you do the hard work behind the scenes and make that information very simple for the user. I think you can apply that to anything, says Terrett, not just websites.

A second key principle is "Do less". "We've improved some projects by just saying, 'let's not do all of that'," says Terrett, "or maybe there's three or four user needs; let's pick one and do that well and do that first".

Concentrating on what the user needs to know, Terrett’s work is transformational and continuously changing to provide UK citizens with government information that is accessible and understandable. As Terrett says, "Government should only do what only government can do" – not give citizens advice on things like bee-keeping, for example. "There are other people that can do that, that should do that."

Terrett believes that design is not an isolated practice and elaborates on how digital services can benefit SMEs.

Designers have to understand much more about the world now than they ever have, says Terrett.

Watch the Talk with Ben Terrett