Digital Service Standards for Wales
The real difference in the digital transformation of public services in Wales has to be an uncompromising focus on the needs of service users. The commitment to user centred design and the adoption of a set of digital service standards are essential.
Digital service standards that are common across all public service organisations in Wales will embed user centred service design and deliver better services and outcomes for users. The Centre for Digital Public Services ensures that these standards are designed, adopted, promoted and sustained. The standards are used to help organisations consider all the elements that lead to better services for the people of Wales.
Wales is unique in its adoption of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to:
- think about the long-term impact of their decisions
- work better with people, communities and each other
- address persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change
This forward-thinking approach is reflected in the Digital Service Standards for Wales. CDPS will continue to test and revise the service standards to meet user needs.
Meeting user needs
- Focus on current and future wellbeing of people in Wales
- Promote the Welsh language
- Understand users and their needs
- Provide a joined up experience
- Make sure everyone can use the service
Creating good digital teams
- Have an empowered service owner
- Have a multidisciplinary team
- Iterate and improve frequently
- Work in the open
Using the right technology
These standards take inspiration from other digital standards around the world (including those published by the Welsh Government). They explain what’s expected from new or redesigned digital services funded by Welsh public sector organisations.
Meeting user needs
1. Focus on current and future well-being of people in Wales
We’re here to make a positive difference to the lives of people in Wales. We should be driven by outcomes that benefit them, not by lists of technical specifications or requirements. Digital service design means thinking about the future as much as we think about today. Teams should consider the well-being of future generations, and think about the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. Services should contribute to the 7 well-being goals of Wales.
2. Promote the Welsh language
Services in Wales should meet the needs of people who use the Welsh language in their everyday lives. Teams should design and build services that promote and facilitate the Welsh language, and treat users who speak it equally with those who prefer English.
- Read Welsh Government guidance on promoting Welsh language
- How we’re making our services better by improving our use of the Welsh language, by Beth Owen
3. Understand users and their needs
User needs should drive service design, whoever those users are. User needs matter more than the constraints of business structures, organisational silos or technologies.
Teams should aim to address the user journey from start to finish, understanding the different ways and channels people will interact with services, whether that’s online, over the phone, or in person. Public services are for everyone, so considering accessibility is essential. Every encounter, online or offline, should move a user closer to their goal.
- Most of government is mostly service design, most of the time, by Matt Edgar
- The importance of product management in government, by Chris Johnston and Kelly O’Connor
- What we mean when we talk about accessibility, by Alistair Duggin
4. Provide a joined up experience
Services that are not joined up are difficult for people to use. The services we deliver should work seamlessly across all channels and across organisations to make sure users have a joined up and coherent experience. Internal teams and processes should be organised to better support the service and meet user needs across their entire journey.
5. Make sure everyone can use the service
There’s usually no alternative to using public services so they have to work for everyone. You should design your service to be inclusive, making sure anyone who needs to use it can do so as easily as possible. Designing services with users who tend to be excluded in mind often makes them better for everyone.
Creating good digital teams
6. Have an empowered service owner
There should be a single empowered service owner who has the authority and responsibility to make all business, product, and technical decisions about a service.
The same person is accountable and responsible for how well the service meets the needs of its users, which is how its success will be evaluated.
7. Have a multidisciplinary team
Teams are how we build services for Wales. Each one should be a diverse mix of people, experience, expertise and disciplines.
As well as having the right mix of skills and experience for the current stage of development, the team should be able to explain how the make-up of the team may change over time, and what funding will be needed to support a team responsible for the service’s continuous improvement.
- Download The Team Onion, a free ebook by Emily Webber
- Agile for teams who don’t build software, by Ross Gregory
8. Iterate and improve frequently
We should use an incremental, fast-paced development approach to get working software into users’ hands as early as possible, as often as possible. This will help teams rapidly iterate, based on user feedback.
- Iterative UI design, by Paul Boag
- Iterative user interface design, by Jakob Nielsen
- Designing the Windows 95 user interface, by Kent Sullivan
9. Work in the open
We should aim to make the services we build, and the techniques we use to build them, as open as possible.
As they develop a service, teams should communicate in the open about the decisions they’re making and what they are learning. They should also share code, patterns and insights as freely as possible to help others seeking to build excellent public services in Wales.
- A blog is your brain, over time, on the internet, by Giles Turnbull
- Blog posts from the team working on alpha.gov.ca in California
- How coding in the open can make you release faster, by Anna Shipman
Using the right technology
10. Use scalable technology
We should make technology decisions that help teams do their work and deliver. We should always aim to use the simplest, most appropriate tool, and avoid vendor lock-in to specific technologies.
Teams should be empowered to use the tools that work for them, and encouraged to consider tools that meet open standards, are cloud-based, and that have widespread adoption and support.
- Characteristics of internet-era CTOs, a series of posts by James Stewart
- More useful insight in Toxic Technology, by Dave Rogers
11. Consider ethics, privacy and security throughout
Digital services must protect sensitive information and keep data secure. Teams should assess, understand and address ethical issues associated with all digital services at every stage of their development.
- Read Doteveryone’s Consequence Scanning guide for understanding the potential impact of a product or service on people and society.
- Designing, building and operating online digital services and risk management guidance by NCSC.
12. Use data to make decisions
We should constantly measure how well services are performing for users. Teams should use performance data to find and prioritise improvements. Where possible, that data should be automated and real-time, to make it as objective and easy to collect as it can be.
Teams should conduct user research on iterative changes to their services. Senior leaders should take part in research on a regular basis, to stay in touch with the work.