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Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). If you’re new to this site, Ben has published a playbook for design linking together many of his blog posts from the past 5 years. You can book him to speak at an event, get in touch or follow him on Twitter.

Latest blog posts


Fingerprints are everywhere. They’re hard to see and hard to remove.

A lot of design work is realignment. And we can all be more intentional about where we leave our fingerprints.

It’s easy to worry about how visible your contribution is. Sometimes people won’t be directly aware of your work.

Service modelling

The phrase ‘service model’ is something I’ve found myself using more and more in recent years. I’ve seen it used elsewhere in different contexts as well.

So what are service models? Here’s my definition:

“Service models are a way for organisations to create, test, and scale the design of whole services.”

New and changing patterns for digital working

“Digital working shouldn’t mean 8 hours of video calls a day …teams are massively overlooking instant (written) messaging, and the power of writing things down clearly, understanding tasks, responsibilities to get on with work independently.”

It’s an interesting insight into how people are feeling when an incidental tweet like this starts to go viral. 

Map making

I love maps. They’re an essential part of a design process. This quote is taken from an article originally written for ‘Interactions magazine’ in 2008:

“Making a map is a way to hold a domain still for long enough to be able to see the relationships between the various approaches, methods, and tools.

The link between hypotheses and telling stories

Back in 2015 I first wrote about hypothesis driven design. I explained that everything can be seen as hypothesis driven design – “The real question is whether or not we write down the assumptions behind the design decisions we make and measure outcomes.”

Never read something cover to cover, except for pleasure

“80 per cent of the value of any work will come from 20 per cent of its activities; and the other 80 per cent of activities will arise because of needless complexity.” – Richard Koch (The 80:20 Principle)

Based on the main idea in the book (described above), I found some useful advice about reading when looking back through The 80:20 Principle.

Living in the future: reflections from Services Week 2020

Last week was Services Week – organised by the Government Digital Service as a series of events for UK government, but very much a celebration of work across different design and digital teams in the UK. It was noticeable how many teams and organisations were contributing to, or organising events.

2019 and the end of a decade

Since 2015 I’ve always published a yearly round up. This year there is so much that I could say and focus on that it feels overwhelming to reflect for too long. This is especially the case as it’s also the end of a decade.

So I’ll keep this brief.

How to use service patterns

How to use service patterns is something that I know a number of different organisations are starting to think about. This is a conversation that I’ve seen prompted by the LocalGov Patterns library that we’ve been working on at FutureGov with Essex County Council.

Open is inspiring

There was a lot of interest in my recent blog post about how to work in the open in government. I explored some of the reasons why I think that working in the open is important. In this post I want to explore why working in the open can also be inspiring.