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Design Phase Principles


The following explanations of the design principles should help you contextualize why the authors of this Guide have selected these principles as items to keep top-of-mind during your design phase. This section should also act as a reference throughout your design process.


The following Global Design Phase principles are a high-level, project-type-agnostic means of defining Design-phase work. They allow us as designers and design teams to constantly align our designs to the needs and desires of our audience and are applicable across the fields for which we design in the Public Sector. The reason they are listed here is that, as teams create and iterate during the Design phase, they run the risk of losing touch with the urgency of the needs and values expressed by participants during the Discovery phase. Having a set of guiding principles gives design teams the parameters they need to constantly reference participants' needs and perspectives as the design phase proceeds.

Global Design Phase Principles

Below, find a set of global design principles. These principles, alongside those that you might create for your specific project, will help ensure that the designed product, service, or solution that your team develops embodies the perspectives and needs of your current and potential participants. These will be explained in detail in the following sections.

  1. Getting to Simple is Hard
  2. No Solitary Geniuses
  3. In Their Shoes
  4. Consider Potential Change
  5. Value New Participants
  6. Plan For Long Term Use
  7. Serve Everyone and Define Your Audience
  8. Wait for the Right Opportunity
  9. Designs Have a Life Cycle

Why Have Design Phase Principles?

Global Principles

Principles help teams maintain focus on their main objective while throughout a multi-parted, challenging design process. For this reason, design teams frequently create a set of guiding principles for their projects at the start of their design phase. These principles can be derived from the Opportunity spaces identified at the end of the Discovery phase. They encompass the main learnings from the participants in the Discovery phase; they are not tactical rules and guidance for the team.

Project-Level Principles

In addition to these global design principles, individual teams should create a set of guiding principles tailored to the specific project on which they're working. For example, if the design idea is to create a knowledge-sharing repository for a department, a principle of the design phase could be to center the design of the repository's submission structure on how the department members want to submit articles and notes, not how it would be easiest to build from a technical standpoint. Guidance on how to produce a set of principles for a design phase is forthcoming in the Design Phase Operations Guide.


Additional Research Methods
Other resources for design principles can be found from the following groups and resources: