These principles guide all of our design. Use them to get started on a project and to help with making decisions.
They're inspired by the NHS Constitution.
Download design principles poster (PDF, 177KB)
1 Put people at the heart of everything you do
Patients, family, carers, staff. Design things that understand and respect people's needs. Take the time to learn about the whole person - their emotional, physical and technical needs.
Design with compassion.
2 Design for the outcome
What will good look like? What are the health, wellbeing or other measurable outcomes that your work will impact? Your work should improve lives, either directly or indirectly.
3 Be inclusive
NHS services are for everyone. Make sure people with different physical, mental health, social, cultural or learning needs can use your design.
4 Design for context
Don't just design your part of a service. Consider people's entire experience, and the infrastructure and processes involved. Think about how people begin and end their time with what you are designing.
5 Design for trust
People trust the NHS. Take care not to jeopardise that. Design things that are reliable and secure.
6 Test your assumptions
Design and test your work with real people. Observe behaviour and gather evidence. Work with subject experts and existing research. Do not rely on hunches.
7 Make, learn, iterate
Start small. Experiment with different ways of doing things. Make prototypes to improve your understanding. Test and refine.
8 Do the hard work to make it simple
Healthcare journeys can be complex. Take the time to understand what you are trying to solve. Do not push complexity onto the people using what you are designing.
9 Make things open. It makes things better
Share your learning. Share your work. Be transparent in your design decisions.
Be accountable and have confidence in your solutions.
10 Design to protect the environment
The climate crisis is a health crisis.
Learn about the impact of your design decisions on the environment. Encourage your team to challenge existing processes and re-use resources.
Would you like to contribute to our design principles?
Please let us know how the design principles have worked for you and, in particular, if you have research findings to share. This will help us improve the principles for everyone.
Before you start, you will need a GitHub account. It's an open forum where we collect feedback.
If you have any questions, you can message us on Slack. You will need a Slack account if you do not have one. Or you can contact us by email.
Updated: April 2023