Design patterns aren’t just for government – UX Cambridge 2015

UXCambridge twitter logoWhen Tim Paul and I did a session on design patterns at the 2015 Service Design in Government conference in London, we expected to get a lively, interested group of UK central and local government people, and we did. We also met several people working in government in several other countries – a bonus.

Did you spot that government theme? We’re working in government, so a session focused on government was perfect for us. But it was a touch surprising when we got an invitation to repeat the workshop at the 2015 UX Cambridge conference. It attracts a mixture of interaction designers, user researchers, product managers and other folk, probably about half of them based somewhere near Cambridge. It’s a lovely place, but it’s best known for its university, genome campus, science park and technology-focused businesses – and of course, for its local government. Not a lot of central government.

Still, we decided to give it a go. As we waited a touch nervously to begin after lunch on a beautiful day, we had about four people in a room that could take at least 30. Oh well. Then I looked out of the window and saw a stream of people hurrying across from the dining hall. A few minutes later, and we had indeed got around 30 people. Exciting!

A show of hands confirmed our expectation – very few people in the room were working on government services. But they were still interested in our patterns.

Attendees at UX Cambridge work on a design exercise

Attendees at UX Cambridge work on a design exercise

We had great participation, interesting questions (mostly about accessibility), and attendees said that they enjoyed our ‘have a go’ exercise where they tried applying our design pattern on form structure to a start page that our colleagues at the Home Office are thinking about redesigning: apply for a UK visa.

If you’d like to join in, we welcome contributions to our design patterns hackpad.

Francis Rowland did a sketchnote of our design patterns session.