This post was first published on the MoJ (Ministry of Justice) Digital blog
A design system unites product teams around a common visual language. It reduces design and technical debt, accelerates the design and development process, and builds bridges between teams working in concert to bring products to life.
Most teams in MoJ Digital & Technology have heard of, reference or use the GOV.UK Design System daily. GOV.UK has an instantly recognisable design language. It sets the standard for how we design services across government.
Services on GOV.UK are the most visible part of digital teams’ work in government, but departments also deliver many services for government staff that sit outside GOV.UK, such as casework systems and other staff-facing services. For these services, the design language available to designers is not as sharp or clearly defined.
At MoJ Digital & Technology when designing staff and provider-facing services, designers always start with the GOV.UK Design System but may have to design and develop alternative patterns and components to satisfy specific user needs.
We have reached a tipping point where designers and developers are creating new patterns and components for government staff facing services. With this, there is a recognised need to establish uniform guidance. We need to lay the foundations for a more consistent experience that teams can build upon over time. Services, whether public or internal, should inspire confidence and trust, and meet the highest accessibility and usability standards.
With the creation of new patterns and components, there is a need to manage them effectively: helping emerging patterns to mature through use and improvement; providing peer review from the MoJ design team; building up a body of user research evidence; to ultimately making a recommendation for inclusion in the GOV.UK Design System.
We’re laying the foundations for a more consistent experience: services, whether public or internal, which inspire confidence and meet the highest accessibility and usability standards.
The best way to do this is to create an MoJ Design System which builds on the design patterns, components and research evidence in the GOV.UK Design System. The purpose of the MoJ Design System is to extend, not re-invent or replace the GOV.UK Design System. It serves as a central repository for patterns and components in use at MoJ Digital & Technology. In time, patterns and components that we develop will be passed upstream into the core GOV.UK Design System.
Similar initiatives are underway at the HMCTS Reform, Home Office, HMRC and most other government departments and by collaborating with them, we are laying the foundations for reuse at scale.