Standards for Government Digital Services

I am continuing my exploration of common standards and have been looking at those that can be applied to the provision of services online. Here are some notes.

As part of their “digital by default” agenda the UK Government has defined a standard against which the development of government services provided online should be judged against. The Digital Service Standard is a set of 18 criteria to help government create and run good digital services. These range from the essential “understand user needs”, through a commitment to using agile development methods, and an encouragement to use open standards and open source, to the government specific “test the service from beginning to end with the minister responsible for it”. The details of the standard can be found online as part of the Government’s Service Design Manual here:

Using the UK Government’s Digital Service Standard as a starting point the LocalGov Digital group have created a similar standard designed to be applied to UK Local Government services. The details of this standard can be found here:

Obviously, many of the principles that these standards seek to articulate can be applied to the design of online services and applications beyond the government sector. Large organisation can seek to embed such standards within their governance structures and processes. But a more basic level I think the standards are a useful checklist against which to test and assess services as they are being developed. If your work tends to be about finding technical solutions to specific problems, attempting to apply such standards are a good way of forcing you to step back and see the bigger picture.