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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

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.

Continue reading…

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.” Continue reading…

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. Continue reading…

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. Continue reading…

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. Continue reading…

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. Continue reading…

New models for service ownership and leadership

With more organisations working with service-oriented approaches to delivery in the public sector, this is increasingly leading to questions about models for service ownership in how we design, develop, maintain and improve whole services. Continue reading…

There’s no such thing as a bad idea

As I did at the Create Leicester conference last week, I often start talks by saying that ‘design is a good idea’.

The line between good and bad ideas is very thin. A bad idea in the hands of the right person can easily be tweaked into a good idea.

— Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit

I’ve seen this through my experience as a designer. Continue reading…

Seniority in design: superpowers

Build on your limitations, make them your strengths.

I really like the work the Home Office design and research teams have taken the lead on, illustrating the importance of accessible design. The statement that first caught my attention here was:

We are all only temporarily not disabled.

Continue reading…


It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Most strategy is finding the clearest, or best available route forward for making progress (rather than standing still).

It means knowing where you want to be, and what the goal you’re working towards looks like. Continue reading…