The ONS Design Community of Practice

The following blog post is written by Rhodri Griffith, Creative Design Lead.

Do it like a designer

Late last year we launched the Design Community of Practice across the Digital, Technology and Methodology directorate. It’s one community that’s part of a wider scheme to introduce communities of professionals together in ONS.

Design is one of the smaller professions across ONS, and it’s fair to say that it’s not as well understood as it could be. It’s not uncommon to hear requests such as “Can you make this chart look pretty for me?” or “Can you design me a logo for my service?”, but good design is much more than this.

There’s years of experience hidden away in the heads of designers performing similar roles across the organisation. By bringing these skills together in one community, we can begin to develop a collective understanding and share this wealth of knowledge.

Who are we and what do we do?

Our community consists of designers with very different qualifications and working backgrounds – including statisticians, developers and visual designers.

We meet every month and use the meetings to share what designers have been working on, the thought process, challenges, outcomes and conduct retrospectives on published content. The variety of backgrounds in the team usually leads to rich conversations.

In addition to this we’re working together on a couple of specific projects that will benefit the organisation. The first are guidelines for designing content for social media and the second a pattern library for data visualisation and interactive content. No doubt we’ll be blogging about our progress with these in the near future.

cover_type_wonkOne of the main challenges we face is communicating to the rest of the office how good design is much more than a pretty graphic or a logo, and to show how it plays a crucial role in our interaction with our users. So in addition to these projects we’ll begin to share some of our thinking behind our day-to-day work through a series of blog posts, so watch this space!


Linking with the wider GDS design community

Being a small group, it’s important that we look to draw on experience from outside, and so as well as sharing best practice from across the industry the group has links with Cross Government Design meetings that happen every 6 weeks. Several departments attend and talk about their challenges and the need to embed design in how their department deliver services.

Design patterns, standards, and ways of working across government are shared – knowledge and experience we can bring back to ONS and apply to our day-to-day work.

Join us at future meetings

One of my motives for writing this blog post is the difficulty in discovering all of the people performing similar roles in a large organisation. Hopefully, this post has given you a flavour of what we’re up to, and so if you’re a designer already working in ONS, get involved!

Your design community really does need you, email me for more information.

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