https://designnotes.blog.gov.uk/2015/08/20/how-to-make-a-new-design-pattern-or-improve-an-existing-one/

How to make a new design pattern – or improve an existing one

80+ designers across government are working on new services

If you’re designing a service and one of the design patterns in the Service Manual isn’t working, you can change it!

Here’s how:

  1. Get your user research findings together
  2. Tell us about your findings on the Design Patterns Hackpad
  3. Make a pull request on the Service Manual
  4. Write a blog post and tell everyone what you did and why

1. Get your user research findings together

You need to show that your pattern works with real users. If you want to change an existing pattern, you’ll have to show that your pattern works better than the existing pattern.

You don’t necessarily have to show that your pattern is better for all users. You just have to show it works better in the context of the service you’re designing.

2. Tell us about your findings on the Design Patterns Hackpad

Write about your new pattern and your research on the Design Patterns Hackpad. If it’s a new pattern, add it to the list of candidate patterns. If it’s an existing pattern, find the page and change it – hackpad saves the previous version automatically.

You can ask for feedback on the cross-government design email list and slack channel. You’ll probably get lots of comments, some will be helpful 😉

3. Make a pull request on the Government Service Design Manual

When you’re happy with your suggestion, write it up and submit it as a pull request on the Government Service Design Manual.

You might have to badger someone to merge your pull request. You can ask for help in the Service Manual slack channel. You’ll get more suggestions here, too.

4. Write a blog post and tell everyone what you did and why

This is the most important bit!

Tell us about how you tested your new pattern and how you came to your solution. Tom Adams' blog post Fail them faster is a good example of how to do this.

You don’t necessarily have to show that your pattern is better for all users. Tell us about the context of the service you’re designing and how your pattern works well in that context.

You don’t need to show you tested a pattern with a hundred people. Ten users might be enough if you observe the pattern working very well with all of them. Use your judgement – you just need to be confident that your pattern works.

Documenting research is important so other designers can understand when to use your pattern. And it will help other designers around government make the case for great design.

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