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The Community Podcast #4

How the UK Government Designs Public Services According to Human Needs

Martin Jordan and Kara Kane are Head of Service Design and Community Manager for User Centred Design at Government Digital Services. Their mission: to make government better for citizens by building better services.

Listen & subscribe on iTunes

Martin and Kara are part of the team behind, the website that’s used by millions of people every day to do everything from renewing your driver’s licence to applying for a visa. It’s the central hub for UK citizens to interact with their government.

And it’s a pretty good hub: and the team of 900 digital specialists behind it is widely recognized as setting the standards for online usability and the way we access governmental information and services online.

Think of it in that way: bureaucracy can actually be simple if you re-think the process and start with human needs first.

Together with Kara and Martin I sat down at 10 Whitechapel Road in London to talk about what it means to build better services for citizens, how GDS works like a startup within the government and how they share knowledge and build community with civil servants across the country.

For example with posters and badges that are spread all around their workplace:

The 5 key take aways from the conversation with Kara and Martin: 

  • How GDS was created in 2011 with a letter by founder Martha Lane Fox
  • What it means to have the entire population of a country as your users
  • The role of design principles and simple means such as stickers and posters (see below) to unite over a shared purpose
  • How Kara and Martin share knowledge and build community with civil servants across the country
  • How other countries adopt the UK model and Government Design evolves as a discipline

Listen now on Soundcloud or iTunes

Go and say hi to Martin and Kara on Twitter at @martinjordan and @karakane_kk, use the hashtag #govdesign to find out more and see what they're up to at

Also recommended: a more in-depth look at GDS via our friends at Lecture in Progress.

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