I’m Matt, and I joined NHS Digital just over two months ago as head of design. My focus is with services for citizens, while also developing the design profession across the whole organisation.

On arriving here, I was fortunate to find a team of skilled and experienced designers. In this post I want to tell you a bit about what they do. There aren’t enough of us though, so at the end of the post you’ll find details of a couple of open vacancies for senior and lead designers.

We have around 30 designers, based in Leeds and London. About half of them support services for citizens – patients, families or carers. The rest are designing for clinicians, commissioners, developers and other stakeholders across the health and social care system.

Different types of design

At NHS Digital, our designers have a range of specialisms – often blending more than one of these:

  • Interaction designers focus on the actions a user needs to make in order to use a service. They refine and shape user journeys and help remove complexity where it isn’t needed.
  • Graphic designers use typography, grids, space, colour and imagery to influence how users understand and interact with information. They help make everything we deliver clear, accessible, and consistent with a modern, human vision for the NHS.
  • Service designers design services – from end to end, back to front – in all channels. NHS Digital is part of a massive, distributed, networked health and care system. Service designers need to connect with all the parts of that ecosystem, not just the bits we deliver nationally.

Increasingly, designers share delivery responsibility as members of agile, multidisciplinary teams. They collaborate closely with other specialists including product managers, user researchers, content designers, developers, delivery managers and clinical experts.

What designers do

A few times since starting here, I’ve been asked, “what do we mean by design?” I always go back to Jared Spool’s definition: “design is the rendering of intent.”

Designers need to understand the strategic intent behind a policy, service or feature. If they don’t, they must fight for clarity until they can demonstrate what’s needed and why. Designers help their teams to reframe problems and bring different options to life. They make explicit links to user needs and hypotheses. They show journeys, structures and relationships. They check in with teammates and stakeholders to ask, “is that what’s in your head too?”

But they go further than that: they help make it real. (That’s the rendering bit!) Designers lead their teams in creating multiple prototypes to test different design directions. Sometimes the prototypes are paper sketches, sometimes interactive digital services in code. They engage early and often with the people who will use their service. Whether working on the service, interaction or visual design, they test, learn, and design with data.

In future blog posts, I hope members of the design team will tell you more about the services they’re working on, the needs they’re meeting and the different design solutions they’re trying.

Come and join us!

We’re currently seeking:

  • Senior designers, based in London, to discover, define, develop and deliver essential services for both the public and health professionals
  • A lead designer, who could be based in Leeds or London, to create design direction and mentor designers.

Applications for both roles close on 11 September. If you’d like to know more about design at NHS Digital, ask away in the comments below.

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