Government Digital Service (GDS)
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A GDS Story 2018


The most common questions we’re asked by visitors to GDS are things like:

  • “How did it all start in the first place?”
  • “How did you get where you are now?”
  • “How can I get my government/team/organisation to do similar things?”

This is an attempt to answer those.

It’s also an exercise in deliberate institutional memory. We have always believed in our Design Principles, one of which says “Makes things open, it makes things better.” This story is us being open about our origins and our progress to date.

One small caveat

The story as published is not exhaustive. It does not tell the whole story. That’s why we’re calling it “a” story, rather than “the” story. There will be errors, omissions, duplications, and other problems. If you’d like to make amendments, corrections or additions, please send your comments to 

Story of 2018


Three members of the user research team working at a table with a laptop and Post-It notes on it

One of our cross-government design community training events

We started the year with the GDS Academy launching a new course - Research and design in government.

At the Government Digital Service (GDS) everything we build must be accessible. We blogged about one of the ways we achieve this - by improving accessibility acceptable criteria. This is a list of conditions that a user interface must meet to be considered accessible. 

We also set out our priorities to help make government services better.


Last February, we published the Government Transformation Strategy. A year on we reflected on how the strategy was working. GDS’s director general Kevin Cunnington outlined his 3 priorities for the next 12 months: being innovators for government, building capability across government and supporting the EU exit.

Later in the month John Manzoni visited GDS to talk about the progress of the strategy.

Journey mapping is an essential part of building step by step navigation on GOV.UK. It’s a process that can also be used elsewhere so we shared how we map service journeys.


Five GDS Academy students attending a course and working together

The GDS Academy celebrated its 1,000th graduate from its 10-day digital and agile foundation course. 

GDS marked International Women’s Day and we profiled women working in technical roles across the organisation to share what it’s like to work in government.

GOV.UK Notify was scaled up to cope with sending 500 million messages a year.  

And this was also the month the Digital Marketplace announced it was expanding with the Global Digital Marketplace.

Click here for the full 2018 blog post (and the archive of ‘A GDS Story’ from all previous years)


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