Design System Team - Year in review

It’s been a big year, and the Digital Service Toolkit team wanted to look back at some of the shared resources we’ve delivered, through hard work, and working together alongside our great contributors across NSW Government.

Some key achievements

  • Design System 3.0: Now the official way to meet NSW Gov brand requirements. Launched Wednesday 1 December.
  • New guidance on navigating rules and policies for digital teams trying to do user research.
  • A library of practical activities and templates for research, contributed by NSW Government’s best practitioners
  • Leveraging the pilot with DRF teams in 2020, we have released an Alpha of the new Design Standards for consultation with sector.

Launching Design System v3

A new version of the Design System was released this year to better meet the needs of digital teams we make it for. The team spent a lot of time working with designers to operationalise their needs and working with developers to understand emerging tech in government. We also worked much closer with NSW Government Branding team this year and have embedded the Design System into the new brand rules on digital visual identity.

In the design system itself we worked to find the balance between uniformity and flexibility.

We branched out from components to other practical tools and published a new Maps method, a shared approach to using Charts and visualising data, and new example layouts that can help teams draw on best practices from elsewhere in the sector. The search and filtering design is also a great new addition which builds off some of the great work in extending and adapting the Design System being done by all the designers, developers and digital teams we work with.

We also saw:

  • ~40 new products across the sector using the design system entirely
  • 600+ users of our UI design and prototyping kit
  • a 4x increase in NPM downloads.

We’re chuffed to have seen external contributions being submitted more frequently from OneCX, Service NSW, and the private sector during 2021.

Take a look at the major version release Design System v3.

Research activities and templates

Mid-year we launched a new way to support teams in adopting design practice, research activities and templates. The work built on listening to our customers, speaking to and designing with our users through an iterative design process.

The resource has had great uptake and we’re really thankful for how individuals and teams across the sector chipped in their expertise. Activities and Templates is now a hub of NSW Government’s most effective research activities, presentations and documents - sourced from our leading practitioners.

We’re looking forward to refining the contribution and design process next year, expanding the approach to other disciplines within digital and offering Lunch and Learn sessions to support teams trying activities out – if you’re interested in coming along to one of these let us know!.

Help for (digital) teams navigating the rules around doing research

We’ve stepped up our use of research and evidence again this year to really put customer insights at the centre of our work. Over discovery & alpha we formed a cross-govt expert working group of digital practitioners and ran a pilot with 2 agencies.

Our focus was on key problem areas:

  • Recruiting research participants inclusively and with diverse cohorts
  • Building capacity to do research recruitment internally
  • Paying people for participating in research, method and amount
  • Working with vendors to NSW govt standards are met & capability is transferred
  • Practicing research ethically & ensuring research and participant safety

The team developed a modular template that agencies could use in their contexts, took a product design approach to developing research operations guides.

The work resulted in 3 new topics in our toolkit to help digital teams navigate some of the logistics of getting started with research (paying people, research with people with a disability and researching with CALD audiences).

Check out our post on helping teams doing user research.

Kicking off the work for Design Standards v3

We’ve been undertaking a process to refine and refocus the Design Standards to make sure what we have is useful and fit-for-purpose. Based on what we learnt by piloting an assessment model with DRF teams using the Design Standards in 2020 the team has produced an Alpha version of the Design Standards which we’ve been testing.

So far we’ve worked with subject matter experts, through some initial workshops and 1-1 meetings.

The team are kicking off in 2022 with a lean approach to making the standards more accessible, focussed on most critical points, and based on the evidence of current experience of digital teams in the sector. Exciting things to come as we progress this work with our partners in the sector – get in touch if you’re keen to be involved!

Come join us

We’re hiring team members to help us build bigger and better things within the Digital Service Toolkit, so please get in touch if you’d like to find out more about positions in our team.

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