Government Launches Beta Of Design System For Digital Service Teams

Digital government, GDS

GOV.UK Design System aims to make it easier for teams to build complex service by bringing common elements and styles into one place

Credit: GDS
Credit: GDS

The Home Office’s Government Digital Service (GDS) has revealed it’s developing a centralised system aimed at aiding teams building public sector digital services by bringing the design elements they need into one place.

The GOV.UK Design System is to contain styles, components and design patterns for government teams, centralising elements already found in the Service Manual, GOV.UK Elements and elsewhere, GDS said.

Creating a unified system is intended to make it easier for users to find what they need and contribute elements.

The tool, which recently completed an alpha-phase assessment, should make the design and construction of services quicker and allow teams to spend more time on bigger design challenges, according to GDS.

Running the service ‘for real’

“We’re now building the platform and planning how to run the service for real,” the service said in a blog post.

The tool builds on government’s experience with another project called GOV.UK Frontend, which began its alpha phase last year and is to be used to implement frontend code.

At a cross-government show and tell where departments discussed their work on design systems, it became clear that the different systems were maturing at the same time, meaning more collaboration could be brought in.

“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,” GDS said.

Private beta

The alpha phase involved the development of an initial prototype, which was used for usability research, workshops and gaining other kinds of feedback.

This allowed GDS to cut the number of categories from 5 to 3 and add aliases that identify elements using terms users are already familiar with.

In the beta phase the agency plans to build an initial version and populate it with existing components, as a basis for further development.

GOV.UK Frontend is being developed at the same time and GDS is looking at linking it to the Design System.

The service is looking for teams to participate in an invitation-only beta and will be piloting different models for the system, after which a public beta is planned.

“Ultimately, we want GOV.UK Design System to be something that is owned by the people who use it,” GDS said.

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