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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

Comparing service design and business design

Just over a year ago, I wrote about comparing service design to business analysis. This was to highlight differences in skill sets, with an emphasis on how service design can bring a new set of approaches and focus to organisations.

In areas of government, and often in large or more enterprise IT-led organisations, service design is still seen at best as interchangeable with established business design functions. Continue reading…

Seniority in Design: personal responsibility

Seniority in design is about personal responsibility.

A disclaimer to start with. While everyone can take personal responsibility, not everyone has the same circumstances, privilege or types of choices to make when doing so.

But, whatever your situation, everyone can can take personal responsibility for their work as a designer. Continue reading…

Simple models

“Complexity in the work. Simplicity in how we approach the work.”

Following on from my previous blog post, I’m a big advocate of designing simple models, or frameworks (including working from first principles).

When we’re working to solve problems, it’s the simplicity and clarity of frameworks that can help us to work with subject matters that are inherently complex. Continue reading…

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…

Seniority in design: empathy both ways

Design leadership requires different types of empathy.

We often talk about about the importance of having empathy with end users. These are the people we’re designing for, and the immediate goal for teams working in this way is to understand how people are feeling, as well as what they might be thinking or doing in a given situation. Continue reading…

Hypotheses in user research and discovery

Back in 2015 I wrote ‘Everything is hypothesis-driven design’. It remains one of my most (and still frequently) read blog posts.

Something I’ve been thinking about more recently is how this translates to user research and ‘discovery’. 

A discovery should be focussed on research and learning. 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…

What’s on my bookshelf this winter/spring (2019)

I’m overdue a book list.

This is what I’ve been reading over the past few months (stretching back to the end of 2018). The rest of this list is books I’m planning to read over the next few months. Continue reading…