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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

The importance of frameworks and first principles in service design

The importance of frameworks is that you focus on a smaller set of things because you can’t focus on everything.

I spend a lot of my time designing, or constructing frameworks as a way of helping others access a way of working that’s anchored to a design process. Continue reading…

The horizon and the next steps

In a design process there are two immediate things that matter*: Continue reading…

Seniority in design: proximity and closeness

As you become a more senior designer with responsibility for other designers, one of the challenges you will face is your personal closeness to ‘hands on’ design work.

As well as how close you are to the work, you will have to think about the proximity you have to those doing the hands on work when that isn’t you. Continue reading…

Learning to prototype is more important than learning to code

There’s still an ongoing debate about whether designers should learn to code. I think it’s more important that designers learn to prototype.

Prototyping doesn’t mean that you have to write code or build software.

A prototype should be the quickest, cheapest way you can find to learn about something, or to test an idea or hypothesis. Continue reading…

A design state of mind

What it means to move to a design mindset

A mindset is how we respond to the world around us. It acts as a center of gravity. It goes with you. It shapes who you are and what you do, wherever you are.

Billy Joel wrote the song ‘New York State of Mind’ after returning to New York City from LA. Continue reading…

Ambiguity and design

Ambiguity is a key part of design. It points us to the uncomfortable gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’ which is where I believe design adds most value.

As I described in my blog post ‘Seniority in design’ the more senior you get the more you will have to learn to handle ambiguity. Continue reading…

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. 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…