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9–11 September 2015

McGrath Centre, St. Catharine's College, Cambridge

Why design matters: how a design-led process delivers better digital services

Ben Holliday Department for Work and Pensions

Session type: Case Study
Session duration: 45 minutes

About this Case Study

Design matters more than ever. It's the difference between delivering services that meet user needs and just delivering 'digital'. It's the process we use to understand the problem and find our way to solutions.

Design helps us deliver services that work well for the people that use them. This means meeting their needs, or simply helping them to get on with their lives.

Product teams are faced with difficult decisions every day. We need to take intuitive leaps of faith when designing solutions. A design-led process puts user research at the front and centre of agile delivery. We still rely on our experience and judgement knowing that we won't be right all the time, but we're never just guessing.

I will talk about how to make informed design decisions and use hypothesis-driven design changes that can help you take bigger and better steps towards meeting user needs.

About the Speaker

Ben is Head of User Experience at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). He was previously a UX designer at FreeAgent and spent a year working with the Government Digital Service before joining DWP. He has also worked extensively with not-for-profit, charity and arts organisations in the UK including the National Theatre.

Ben is especially interested in using well-designed research as part of agile design and delivery - using data and hypotheses to drive improvements to products and services.


Session Types

Need help planning which sessions to attend? We've provided a breakdown of our various session types below.

Case Study/Experience Report

A presentation and discussion of real-life (not theoretical) experiences of the application (or mis-application) of service design techniques. Case studies and experience reports include some discussion of lessons learned and an indication of how novel the work is.


Participants learn a new approach, tool or technology through using it to solve one or more practical exercises. Any software/hardware requirements are disclosed in the session description.


A session focused around some specific tool, technique or issue. Primarily led by the speaker, tutorials usually include some elements of interactivity or individual / group exercise.


An in-depth working session on a specific topic. May include paper presentations.