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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.

All blog posts in design

Prompts for design leaders working with product teams

When working with product teams, the job of a design leader is to make quick and accurate assessments about the focus and quality of the work being presented back to them.

You should be able to answer the following questions.

  • Is the team designing the right thing?
Continue reading…

What makes a design education?

There’s a lot of design education out there. I get asked sometimes what people should ‘study’?

If you want to be a good designer, my advice is to study broadly and follow your interests. A design degree is great but it’s how you spend the rest of your life learning and being open to new ideas that matters most. Continue reading…

All design is strategic

All design is strategic unless you just see it as implementation.

Lingjing recently wrote about the importance of strategy.

I like this approach as a framework. It’s simply a way to think through and take forward a set of actions working towards a clear end-goal. Continue reading…

Service mapping and different types of maps

Written by Ben Holliday. Based on work developed with Kirsty Sinclair and feedback from the FutureGov design team.

There’s a question of why designers make so many maps. We love maps. But there can be confusion or misunderstandings about why we’re making them or how they can be useful to service teams. Continue reading…

Bias in design

Why all design is flawed when you’re looking for magic

I often get asked about bias in design. My answer:

All design is flawed. But buried in each action, each small step that we take and every single decision — even when our best intentions are biased, mis-directed, or even driven by individual ego — is the ability to make magic happen.

Continue reading…

The consultants fallacy

I’ve worked for a number of years as a consultant, and have worked with many other consultants.

The consultants fallacy is to leave people thinking they need to work harder, or invest more time and money in order to understand your ideas and methods. Continue reading…

Working forwards and working backwards

What we can learn from the military about “mapping backwards” and how this applies to service design

Wellington at Waterloo by Robert Alexander Hillingford

Wellington at Waterloo by Robert Alexander Hillingford

In my previous blog post I wrote about the differences between service design and business analysis. Continue reading…

Comparing service design and business analysis

As service design has become a more prominent role and way of working for organisations I’ve seen some confusion between ‘service design’ and ‘business analyst’ (BA) roles.

Service design and business analyst roles have some similar skill sets, but they require a different type of focus and mindset. Continue reading…

Working with design detail

Why prototypes can be more valuable than specifications or documentation

A good rule of thumb for designers:

If you need to get into a finite level of detail, make something.

Artefacts are most useful when they become the design, rather than a plan for doing the design or building a product. Continue reading…

Raise your expectations

A good rule of thumb.

Don’t accept the low expectations of your teams, clients, or the sector you work in.

Everyone has the opportunity to challenge what’s happening around them. This is whether you have permission to do so, or not.

Challenge people to do more with less. Continue reading…