The NHS Digital Service Manual

So we all know the benefits to Research, Design and Development of an active and well-maintained Design System (especially across national Public Sector organisations).

Well, not necessarily. For those new to the conversation, consider starting here — we all like to preach to the converted (or is that just me?!).

Where to start? Well, here on NHS Jobs (part of NHSBSA) we decided to be one of the first services outside of NHS Digital to use their new design system. A risky business you might think? Thankfully not! Let’s see why…

Firstly — some context. The design system being used previously at NHSBSA by the digital teams was a hybrid of GOV.UK

So, the first days of a new role are always a magical mystery tour of strange faces, places and challenges (I managed to self-indulgently work a couple of classic musical references into that sentence!).

Having just finished my first 2 weeks on the NHS Jobs service’s Beta phase in Newcastle, I thought I’d share some reflections on how can we help others to help us during these early days.

Our Collaboration Corner: If a post-it note falls in the forest, and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

Here’s a few tips that come to mind:

  1. Learn the jargon!
    First things first; Terminology, domain knowledge, abbreviations and acronyms. Always ask colleagues to clarify these. …

I thought I’d share some lesson learnt from working as an Interaction Designer across 4 services within 2 Governmental Departments.

Prior to this, I’d spent 15 years in similar roles within the Private Sector, and so these are lessons which I think particularly apply to Governmental digital delivery, but of course not exclusively so.

I’ll write a second list soon, but here’s what springs to mind as I write this:

  1. It’s going to be complex.
    Make your peace with this early on. Edge cases (or ‘stress cases’ as described in the excellent Design for Real Life) should be your playground…

Richard Payne

UX Consultant of some 20 years. Find me at

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