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Digital by Default: Working to GDS’ Government Service Standard principles

By Jamil Hussein - 10th December 2018

The GDS Government Service Standard — formerly Digital Service Standard — helps government create and run, user-led digital services. 

As part of the government’s wider ‘Digital by Default’ drive, the service standard was introduced in 2014 and updated a year later to reduce the number of assessments from 26 to 18. You can find the list here.

All public-facing services must meet the standards. It’s used by departments and GDS to asses whether a service is good enough for public use. 

The service standard is being updated and renamed as 'Government Service Standard' to reflect its broadened focus; beyond transactional services and towards “joined up, end-to-end services that meet user needs.”  The publication of the revamp is imminent but you can find out more about some of the changes being earmarked


User-led digital services

On the whole, the objective of these principles will be the same — to create great digital services with the user firmly in mind.

Priority will remain around understanding user needs, based on ongoing user research and data and building services in an agile, iterative way with a multidisciplinary team.

The principles will continue to advocate services that are easy to use, accessible and secure. Open standards and open source will still be championed.

And they’ll still recommend departments prioritise automation, avoid locking in particular technology solutions and advocate the reuse of patterns and components where possible.

In our recent government survey, interviewing respondents from over 90 central government departments and agencies, we found that around half of respondents still feel that ‘digital by default’ isn’t being achieved. 

It’s crucial that government departments understand these requirements and partner with suppliers who have experience and advocate the benefits of working within this model.


READ: Get a copy of our survey to find out how government departments can accelerate their digital transformation projects

Infusing the GDS service standards

At Zaizi we have been working under these standards with various government departments. We put in place teams that can execute those principles; from the correct UX design, to open source know-how, to delivering projects in an Agile, iterative and user-centred way.

Infusing the service standards with the delivery team means it will be easier to pass the GDS assessments. A service is assessed at different phases of an Agile project (Discovery, Alpha, Beta, Live) and if it doesn’t pass a stage, it is re-assessed before the next phase begins. 

In a recent government project, we passed the assessment in our first attempt. It helps that we’ve been working with government departments for over ten years and have a history of delivering projects meeting the service standard principles since its inception. 

If you’d like to know more about the GDS’ Government Service Standard principles and how we can work with you then get in touch

About the author: Jamil Hussein
Jamil is the Content Manager at Zaizi. He specialises in video production and has worked as a journalist for various online news organisations for over 10 years.