GDS Retrospective #5: things that have changed

02 July 2017

To finish of this seris of retrospective posts I thought I’d list 7 things that have changed for the better as a result of the things GDS and others across government have done over recent years:

  1. Understanding the needs of users through research (and other methods) is part of how digital services get designed and built. So is testing real things early with real users.

  2. It is now accepted that it is OK to use open-source in government, and that code and designs can be shared across government.

  3. There are the beginnings of shared tools and communities across government that could, in time, start to change the shape of government.

  4. Development cycle-times have been reduced through the widespread use of integration testing, open-source, and user research. (Side note: these are only going to get shorter and different and skills will be needed to take advantage of that).

  5. There are the beginnings of shared platforms that could change how at what speed and at what cost services get built for the better.

  6. It is possible to get a job in government as a developer, designer or researcher and for it to be an aspirational thing to do, and it is possible for government departments to develop services in-house where appropriate.

  7. Accessibility is approached as a core design, development and research activity, rather than a question of meeting a particular standard. (Arguably, this most radical thing that GDS collectively did, and it still looks like it’s leading rather than following several years later).

Question is: what should this list look like in 5 years time?