There are over 165,000 charities in the UK. Some of these are already doing amazing things with digital service delivery. But many are just starting their journey.
At CAST we run a number of hands on product development programmes for charities to help them research, design and test new digital services. But we’re just one small organisation working in a very large sector. So we’ve been trying to understand what can be done to support sector change at scale.
One of the things that has come up recently in our research with charities and funders is the role of digital design principles. For charities just starting out, they can be a useful checklist to make sure they are developing digital services in the right way. For charities already running digital services, they can be useful to communicate to key stakeholders (including trustees) how digital services should be run across the organisation. For funders, these principles can be useful to support charities they are funding, as well as providing guidance on what to look for when assessing applications.
There are some great sets of design principles out there, both in government (for example, from the Government Digital Service, 18f, Government of Canada), and in international development (Principles for Digital Development, Alidade). But what we’ve found through our research is that for UK charities already developing digital services, not all of them align with their work, so they end up picking and choosing or writing their own. Equally for charities starting out with digital service delivery, deciding which principles to follow can be overwhelming when they don’t have the expertise to choose.
These two challenges mean we’ve been facilitating a process to develop digital design principles for charities in the UK.
So far that’s involved workshops and interviews with charities of all sizes, as well as with funders and other sector organisations, to explore if and how principles could be useful. Here’s four key things we’ve learnt:
The first draft
Through desk research, 1–1 interviews and a workshop of sector digital experts, we’ve pulled together a first draft long list of digital design principles for UK charities. We openly share them here for constructive feedback and thoughts.
There are two things to emphasise.
Firstly, this is very much the first draft of a long list. We are just a few weeks in to the work and will be further refining the long list over the coming weeks with more input from people in the sector.
Secondly, we think that for principles to be most useful, no organisation should own them. So our approach has been to work with the great thinking that’s out there already — by bringing together existing digital design principles — then facilitating a process where those in the sector prioritise and identify those which they feel are most effective.
The long list so far:
This article was originally published here and was reposted with permission.