A line of white men, smiling.
A line of white men, smiling.

A year ago, I published a blog post about the challenges we face as a growing design profession in NHS Digital, and as an industry as a whole, when it comes to building diverse teams with an inclusive culture. It was difficult to write, but important to publish, and allowed us to begin the hard work on making this happen.

I wrote about how we were going to treat this as a design problem, and structure our work in a way that was familiar, so that we could identify the broad themes, and specific tasks, we would need to confront.

I’ve been musing recently on the term ‘desire’, when it comes to the design of services in health and care. It’s a relatively old term in user experience and eCommerce that I remember from my days working on selling internet and mobile phone packages.

Desire is your measure of how much a user will persist, in getting your product. Or to put it another way, how much nonsense they’re willing to withstand, in order to get your product. …

It’s a strange time to be working in service design, interaction design, or product development right now. If you’re working on a public service, or in health and care, or for charities, you’re probably having to work faster, and think more clearly, than you’ve ever had to before. This stuff is life and death, and everything needs delivering yesterday.

CD booklet featuring the song title ‘Blinded by Fear’
CD booklet featuring the song title ‘Blinded by Fear’
Blinded by fear

I’ve had a number of conversations this week with people working on extremely important services. It’s easy for the pressure to build, and the fear that a mistake you make now, might have a butterfly effect on people’s lives. You might…

Growing a diverse team, from a profession which is not diverse, in an environment where your profession is not fully accepted, with tools and processes which can exclude, is a huge challenge.

A line of young, white men, smiling at the camera.
A line of young, white men, smiling at the camera.

Every now and then on Design Twitter, an existential argument emerges, around who should or shouldn’t be classed as ‘a designer’, and what should or shouldn’t be considered ‘design’. To the outsider, and to many insiders, they are tiresome, indulgent affairs, usually giving an exclusionary air to an industry that desperately needs to be more welcoming and around 285739% more diverse. Luckily, I missed the most recent debate…

Leslie Knope from the TV show Parks & Recreation

I’ve been in a design leadership position for nearly two years now. At its best, it’s a fulfilling role where the impact of your work (and that of your team and colleagues) can be seen at scale. At its less-than-best, it can be laborious, with levels of admin and political chicanery that you swore as a younger designer you would never sink to.

It’s interesting to reflect on how the role has evolved over the last year-and-a-bit. It feels more ‘official’ now, and I think this is commensurate with design as a profession becoming more established as a strategic organisational…

Avoid language that trivialises the role of designers

I had an interesting chat recently with some design colleagues, about banning the word ‘cosmetic’ from discussions about the design and build of digital interfaces.

The team currently working on the new design system and prototyping kit for digital interfaces for the NHS, have been lucky to work with CSS consultant Harry Roberts, who has been helping us structure code, ready for sharing with other teams. Part of that work involves deciding how the system performs for older, less-well-supported browsers and devices. It is a healthy exercise to boil down the essentials of an interface, and ensure what we have…

Maybe it was the sleep deprivation that parenthood brought, but Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom was one of my favourite TV shows whilst my children were younger. It was funny and smart, and had some wry comments about class and royalty.

I chanced upon an episode recently, and I saw a few parallels with the design industry, and how different professions see each other.

The Fairies, from Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom

These are the Fairies. They live in a castle, and can do magic. They can make trees walk, turn people into frogs, and all sorts of other fantastical things.

For the last six months, I’ve been working on developing a design system for the NHS website, and associated digital services. You may think that ‘working on developing’ is a bit of a pointlessly long phrase, but it’s right. If I just said ‘developing’, you’d think I was working directly on the system itself. Assessing the existing design, working out improvements, establishing patterns, grids, and all that. But that’s only been a fraction of what I’ve had to do, to be able to get to that.

Somewhat naively, when Sophie and Matt asked me to join the team as visual…

I’ve been a freelance designer for the last nine years, and it’s been an absolute blast. After leaving an in-house team at a huge, high-pressure organisation, I wanted to work on small, interesting things. I’ve worked on a more diverse range of projects than I could ever have dreamed of. Stuff for TV, stuff for film, stuff for theatre. Stuff for startups, stuff for big companies, stuff for individuals. Stuff for little screens, stuff for big screens. Stuff to help people sell stories, and stuff to help people tell stories. Stuff for kids, stuff for tweens, stuff for adults. …

How Brexit handed me a midlife crisis I wasn’t planning, and how stamp collecting kept it at bay.

In July of 2016 (a year ago, at time of writing), I turned 40. The same weekend, I began collecting stamps. These two things are sort of related, but I thought it’d be interesting to examine the events leading to it, and how collecting stamps has helped my sense of optimism over the last 12 months.

I’ll be honest — the Brexit vote crushed me. The ugly events and national debate both before and after the referendum, as well as the result itself, overturned my understanding of things I recognised as being decent and generally agreed on in our society…

Dean Vipond

Lead designer. Personal website: http://www.deanvipond.com

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