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LGSS Digital Blog

Service design for local government

Lawrence Mburu

Designer

This is for everyone

A couple of weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the New Adventures digital conference in Nottingham. Now that I have recovered from the experience, let me try and share a few thoughts with all you amazing people.

At the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, Sir Tim Berners-Lee recreated his invention of the world wide web, live on stage. This is for everyone was immediately spelled out in LED lights around the stadium, literally illuminating his motivation for creation.

One of the key messages from the New Adventures conference was that we need to continue to keep this motive in mind. With such powerful digital tools at our fingertips, we have to think about who we are designing for and how our creations will evolve and impact the world.

Allow me to share 5 insights I took away from the conference. I promise to keep it short.

Design for inclusion

Designing for inclusion means your team has taken a position on social responsibility. What you put on the web should be usable anywhere, on any device, by everyone.

Have a clear picture of who might be excluded by your design and work to lower the barrier to participation.

Design for diversity

Build diversity into your craft. Work with people who are different from you. A great team is made up of individuals with a wide range of characteristics and experiences. Work towards an increasingly global audience.

Progress over perfection

Define the minimum standard for excellence. What is your definition of good enough? Resist the urge to over-engineer. Have fun while building and grow as a result of the task.

And remember, excellence does not mean perfectionism.

Have access to your users

Ditch idealised personas and get out of the office. Every human is on a unique journey that we know nothing about.

It is only by immersing yourself in context that you get real insight outside of your digital privilege bubble.

Champion digital ethics

We live in a digital society, but most citizens do not understand digital technology. A system can make people’s information vulnerable – if you wouldn’t want to be in a situation, don’t put someone else in it. Rather than just ticking off a regulation checklist, think about protecting the people you’re building for.

 

“It’s all about what we become, as a result of what we learn. After all, the true value of any knowledge lies in its application.”

Lawrence Mburu

You are not alone

When people understand the value of design, they become our greatest advocates. Together, we can create an organisational culture of learning and understanding. In this new world, transparency, accountability, and consensus are the keys to being taken seriously.

And there you have it… My very, very summarised points to ponder. Or have I just been preaching to the choir? Yes… no… maybe.

I am proud to say most of my colleagues in LGSS Digital live and breathe these principles. But I hope that by talking about these things, we remember why we do what we do. It’s all about what we become, as a result of what we learn. After all, the true value of any knowledge lies in its application.

The reflex to learn and do better is not a need for an individual, or a team. It is for everyone. This is for everyone.

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