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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/service-designer-skills-they-need/service-designer-skills-they-need
This content is part of the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Capability Framework which describes the DDaT roles in government and the skills needed to do them.
1. What a service designer does
A service designer is a confident and competent designer who is able to develop designs based on evidence of user needs and organisational outcomes. They can be trusted to make good decisions and can recognise when to ask for further guidance and support.
They will contribute to the development of design concepts, they should be able to interpret evidence-based research and incorporate this into their work.
2. What skills they need
A service designer needs specific technical skills.
All roles have essential skills, and some have desirable skills.
Each skill has one of 4 skill levels associated with it:
2.1 Essential skills
|Skill||Description of the skill||Skill level||What the skill level means|
|Communicating information||Able to communicate effectively across organisational, technical and political boundaries, understanding the context. Makes complex and technical information and language simple and accessible for non-technical audiences. Able to advocate and communicate what a team does to create trust and authenticity and can respond to challenge.||Practitioner||Able to listen to the needs of the technical and business stakeholders, and interpret between them. Able to manage stakeholders’ expectations and be flexible, is capable of proactive and reactive communication. Facilitates difficult discussions within the team or with diverse senior stakeholders.|
|Digital perspective||Understands how the digital economy is changing user behaviour and the government landscape. Is able to make informed decisions based on user needs, available technology and value for money. Has knowledge of the wider digital economy and advances in technology||Working||Is responsive to changes in technology, adapting their approach accordingly. Makes decisions to meet user needs in the government context. Understands the importance of assisted digital and is able to design services and make decisions to meet users needs.|
|Evidence and context-based design||Visualises, articulates, solves complex problems and concepts, and makes disciplined decisions based on available information and research evidence. Able to move from analysis to synthesis and/or design intent. Such skills include demonstration of the ability to apply logical thinking, gathering and analysing information and evidencing key performance indicators.||Practitioner||Able to generate multiple solutions to a problem and tests them.|
|Facilitating decisions and risks||Capable of making and guiding effective decisions, explaining clearly how the decision has been reached. Has the ability to understand technical complexity and risks, run collaborative design activities, influence others and build consensus.||Working||Able to generate multiple solutions to a problem and tests them.|
|Leadership and guidance||Interprets vision to lead on decisions. Creates a continually collaborative environment and sustains a good service. Understands and resolves technical disputes across varying levels of complexity and risk. Solves issues and unblocks problems. Drives teams and sets the pace, ensuring teams are delivering. Manages risk including effectively managing and tracking the mitigation of risks. Manages various dependencies across teams, departments and government as a whole.||Working||Contributes to best practice guidelines. Understands the sustainability and consequences of their decisions and is able to make decisions characterised by managed levels of risk and complexity. Capable of resolving technical disputes between wider peers and indirect stakeholders, taking into account all views and opinions.|
|Prototyping||Able to apply technical knowledge and experience to create or design workable prototypes, both programmes and physical outputs. Understands parameters, restrictions and synergies.||Practitioner||Sees prototyping as a team activity, actively soliciting prototypes and testing with others. Establishes design patterns and iterates them. Knows a variety of methods of prototyping and chooses the most appropriate ones.|
|Prototyping in code||Understands the limitations of internet technology and why code is important. Able to prototype a code, but does not necessarily have to make production-ready code. Can talk to developers and knows when to switch code. Understands security, accessibility and version control. Can use ‘what you see is what you get’ tools.||Working||Has the ability to write HTML and can add new tags.|
|Strategic thinking||Able to have an overall perspective on business issues, events, activities and an understanding of their wider implications and long-term impact. This could include determining patterns, standards, policies, roadmaps and vision statements. Can focus on outcomes rather than solutions and activities.||Practitioner||Able to define strategies and policies, providing guidance to others on working in the strategic context. Evaluates current strategies to ensure business requirements are being met and exceeded where possible.|
|Understanding constraints||Able to understand and work within the given constraints (including but not limited to technology, policy, regulatory, financial, legal, social user constraints) and to challenge constraints that can be changed. Capable of ensuring compliance against constraints by adapting products and services where needed.||Working||Can identify and understand constraints, and is able to communicate these and work within them. Is able to challenge the validity of constraints. Capable of ensuring standards are being met.|
|User focus||Understands users and can identify who they are and what their needs are based on evidence. Able to translate user stories and propose design approaches or services to meet these needs and engages in meaningful interactions and relationships with users. Puts users first and can manage competing priorities.||Practitioner||Able to collaborate with user researchers and can sell and represent users internally. Understands the difference between user needs and desires of the user. Able to champion user research to focus on all users. Can prioritise and defines approaches to understand the user story, guiding others in doing so. Can offer recommendations on the best tools and methods to be used.|
2.2 Desirable skills
|Skill||Description of the skill||Skill level||What the skill level means|
|Agile working||Is aware of and understands agile methodology and how to apply an agile mindset to all aspects of their work. Has the ability to work in a fast-paced, evolving environment and utilises an iterative method and flexible approach to enable rapid delivery. Unafraid to take risks, willing to learn from mistakes and appreciates the importance of agile project delivery for digital projects in Government. Able to ensure the team has a situational awareness of what each other is working on and how this relates to practical government objectives and user needs.||Working||Has had experience in working in agile, including an awareness of agile tools and how to use them. Can advise colleagues on how and why agile methods are used and is able to provide a clear, open and transparent framework in which teams can deliver. Can adapt and reflect, is resilient and has the ability to see outside of the process.|
|Community collaboration||Contributes to the work of the community, building successful teams through understanding team styles and influencing as well as motivating team members. Gives and receives constructive feedback, facilitating the feedback loop. Facilitates conflict resolution within teams, ensures the team is transparent and that the work is understood externally. Able to help teams maintain a focus on delivery while being aware of the importance of professional development.||Practitioner||Able to work collaboratively within a group, actively networking with others and engaging in varying types of feedback choosing the appropriate time, and ensuring the discussion sticks. Uses initiative to identify problems or issues in the team dynamic and rectify them. Able to pull out issues through agile health-checks with the team to provoke the right responses.|
3. Civil Service Success Profiles Framework
The Civil Service uses The Success Profiles Framework to assess candidates during recruitment.
It is a flexible framework, used to assess a range of experiences, abilities, strengths, behaviours and technical/professional skills required for different roles.
Find out more about Success Profiles.
4. Other roles in service design
There are 5 other role levels in service design: