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  1. Service manual
  2. Design
  3. Introduction: designing government services

Services must be designed to meet their users needs. You must consider the whole user journey when you’re designing government services.

Meeting the Digital Service Standard

You must design services which meet the following points of the Digital Service Standard:

Check if you need a service assessment before you build your service.

Consider the whole user journey

Users think of services in terms of what they want to do, for example learn to drive, start a business or become a childminder. This might mean they’ll deal with different government departments, agencies or third-party suppliers.

Looking at the whole user journey means building services that reflect the way users think about or use them.

When designing a service, make sure it:

  • reflects what users want to do and is built on users’ experiences
  • has a beginning, middle and end - users’ needs change, for example finding out if you’re eligible to become a childminder is different to gathering documents so you can apply
  • can be completed as needed - for example by phone, online and on paper
  • is accessible to everyone - for example anyone who’s in a wheelchair, blind, deaf, autistic, dyslexic or having memory problems because of stress

Find out more about looking at the whole user journey in these blog posts:

Identify all the parts of your service

Before you can build a new service or improve an existing service you need to understand how it works. This means thinking about your service:

  • from end-to-end - including whether the tasks are provided directly by government or a third party, for example a supplier
  • from front to back - including what users see, internal processes and software, policy or legislation, and how the service is governed and financed
  • in every channel - including phone, post and face to face as well as digital

To do this you should define all the tasks that help users meet a need at every stage.

Understand your users’ tasks

You should look at everything a user has to do to achieve their goal.

Remember that services usually include digital, physical and offline parts, and that users often need to work with more than one part of government.

You should also look at when users might have to complete tasks in their journey. That might mean getting a licence from one department and forms from another.

Learn more about mapping user journeys.

Research your users’ tasks

Your users’ tasks might include:

  • checking eligibility before they apply
  • finding a thing, for example a form
  • reading regulations, policy or news
  • acting on an email, text or letter they get from a service

Your users might have to complete tasks at different times, for example:

  • before they start (including research)
  • during their journey (including getting photos or forms)
  • after they’ve finished (including updating their personal details online)

Once you understand your users’ tasks you can:

  • find out how well the tasks meet user needs
  • work out which tasks in the service need to fit together
  • rebuild tasks to create a seamless user-centred journey

Further reading

Read these guides to find out how to plan, build and run your service:

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Guidance first published