- Solve real problems We solve problems that real people have, we make sure what we build works for them, and we continuously improve it. We solve real problems instead of creating elegant code and robust systems to solve imagined ones. (Code for America, everyone)
- Clarity in communication, purpose, and goals People enjoy products that are designed for the audience and guided by a defined purpose and goals. (Principles for Accessibility)
- Work with (not just for) the people we serve People first, technology second! (everyone)
- Do the hard work to make it simple Making something look simple is easy. Making something simple to use is much harder - especially when the underlying systems are complex - but that’s what we should be doing. Don’t take “It’s always been that way” for an answer. It’s usually more and harder work to make things simple, but it’s the right thing to do.(GOV.UK)
- Efficency: Streamline and optimize workflows Intelligently anticipate needs to help people work better, smarter, and faster. (Salesforce, DesignGov, Code for America)
- Design with data, be data-driven In most cases, we can learn from real world behaviour by looking at how existing services are used. Let data drive decision-making, not hunches or guesswork. Keep doing that after taking your service live, prototyping and testing with users then iterating in response. Analytics should be built-in, always on and easy to read. They’re an essential tool. (GOV.UK)
- Demonstrate the path Chicago is on to become the most transparent, innovative, effective and efficient municipal government. (Chicago Tech Plan, DesignGov, USDS)
In December 2018 the Department of Innovation & Technology team reviewed our goals and the design principles of leading government digital service teams from around the world to chose a set of principles to guide our work.
We examined the following statements of principle, chosen to include examples from government, nonprofit, local, goal-driven (“Accessibility”), and a platform-driven example, since we often use software platforms to deliver services to residents, partners and employees of the City of Chicago.
- The Chicago Tech plan
- The United Kingdom’s gov.uk Design Principles
- Australia’s DesignGov Principles
- Code for America’s Principles for 21st Century Government
- Principles for Accessibility
- Salesforce design principles
One thing in particular we noted as a result of this activity is the difficulty we had finding consistent URLs for these items. We will keep these principles in GitHub and hope to make them more consistently available.
You may ask, why not just write your own principles, without looking at other teams’ work? We don’t have time for that, and neither do you. We’re a municipal government, budgets are tight, time is limited, people are overbooked.
We could take the time to write our own principles, carefully crafting them in workshops, updating them yearly, and eventually maturing them into the principles you see listed above. In the spirit of the USDS design principles we chose to start from existing solutions, learning from the organizations whose work represents some of the highest quality digital service delivery in our sector, and start culture change through our team’s discussion of these values.
Have questions? We’d love to hear from you about our principles, or other feedback you may have. Get in touch at the link in our footer.