Sharing, learning and growing user-centred design at CDPS

Our Head of User-centred Design, Jo Goodwin, gives an update on the progress we have made so far, and what’s next…

9 February 2023

In October 2022, I set 3 priorities for user-centred design at CDPS. Time flies when we’re having fun – and a lot has happened in that time. 

1. People, communities, and networks 

In a workplace, there are many ways people come together and meet others – whether that is through an established community of practice, a network, an informal working group, or part of a formal structure. 

Building communities 

User-centred design is still new in most parts of the Welsh public sector, so it is a great time to consider how people connect to share, learn, and grow their network of peers. 

There are four types of communities. These are defined in Emily Webber’s book, Building Successful Communities of Practice. I have adapted those definitions here: 

Community of interest 

Communities of interest are for people with similar interests who want to connect with others about a shared topic or passion. 

Community of practice 

A community of practice is for practitioners and people who do similar things – that could be similar work, tasks, or approach problems in a shared way. An example could be all people who share a job title regularly meeting.  

Community of action  

A community of action is people who come together for a specific cause, or event, or to solve a shared problem. This is usually a more outcome-orientated, shorter-term community to achieve a specific goal.  

Community of place 

Places bring people together. This could be because of a shared love of a place or because people live in the area.  

Existing communities in Wales 

We’ve been looking at: 

We did this to understand where there is duplication and opportunities to improve, and where there are gaps.

Following this, we have published a list of networks and communities for digital practitioners in Wales and across the UK government.

Following this review, we will build a model for community engagement. This will make sure that there is room for practitioners as well as those with an interest in becoming more user-centred or learning more about design thinking.  

There will also be room for communities of action for short-term, outcome-oriented communities to come together and solve shared problems.

Filling the gaps 

What we do at CDPS with colleagues in Wales must have a clear purpose and add value – we must ensure there isn’t overlap or duplication unless there is a clear (and good) reason for it. 

User research community 

We noticed that there is no community for user researchers. 

User research is still in its infancy in many areas of the Welsh public sector. The value and benefits are not yet fully understood by leaders across Wales, and there is a gap in skills, with very few user researchers employed in the Welsh public sector and the organisations who design and deliver services, not having the capability or capacity to introduce the discipline.

This community will work with people across Wales to shape what is needed in this space. Our user researchers (Gabi, Tom, and Yana) are working closely with Welsh Government and other researchers across Wales to start to the scope and plan this community. 

Other types of communities 

We have made amazing progress in our communities of practice. We now need to look at communities for those who are not practitioners but have interests or would like to come together to meet a common goal. 


In the past three months, we have grown our user-centred design team at CDPS.

Having experienced, highly skilled people in CDPS is essential to helping us develop and demonstrate the value of designing services with user needs from the start.

Joining me, Osian and Gabi are: 

2. Tools and frameworks 

We have made great progress in building our internal ways of working and bringing together tools to do user-centred design. There is still lots to do, but Rome wasn’t built in a day…

So far, we have: 

We are keen to work with our communities and networks to evolve, improve, share, and scale this work.

3. Making user-centred design accessible to all officers, and all services across Wales 

We have been working hard on this priority, planning and preparing behind the scenes. We are excited to be rolling out new tools and resources very soon.

Over the next few weeks, we will be hosting lunch and learn sessions on specific disciplines and challenges. Part of these sessions will be sharing tactics and resources to help you practice more user-centred design in your work, regardless of what service your work in.

In addition to these sessions, we have been working with our communications team to plan a campaign to de-myth user-centred design and have a varied events and media programme planned for the next few months. 

Get in touch 

As always, with all our work in the user-centred design team, we love to hear ideas and feedback (the more brains the better!) 

We would love to hear from you to help us on our journey. Please tweet us, email us, or come along to one of our community sessions.  

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