Scottish Government to host International Design in Government Conference

February 27, 2019 by 8 Comments | Category Content Design, Digital Public Services, Digital Scotland, News, Scottish Approach to Service Design

Announcement from Sarah Davidson, Director General for Organisational Development and Operations.

I am delighted to announce that Scottish Government will host the International Design in Government conference in Edinburgh on 25 – 26 June.

The International Design in Government conference brings together an established community of designers working in government across the world. The theme of the conference this year will be ‘Participation – involving citizens in the design of government and public services’.

I believe this is an exciting opportunity to highlight the importance of design in public services and to focus our attention on how we encourage, empower and enable all citizens to get involved in designing the services they need.

A commitment to design in government

Scottish Government has made a strong commitment to embracing design as a core professional skill for government through the creation of the Office of the Chief Designer and appointment of a Chief Design Officer.

That office coordinates the Scottish Approach to Service Design community – a collaboration with partners across local government, the public and private sector, the NHS and the third sector in Scotland. The community is driving public sector ability to deliver consistent and joined up public service experiences for citizens, for example though efforts to standardise key design methods and tools and promoting citizen participation in design.

We have also recently introduced a new profession framework to the Scottish Government that recognises seven design roles, including user research, service design and content design, to make sure we have the skills we need to work in new ways.

A commitment to redesigning design in government

Design helps us solve the right problems and solve those problems in the right ways for people. This drives us to put users at the heart of everything we do. However, I am also aware that design itself is not always as accessible and inclusive as it could be and, equally, that the design profession is not as diverse as it could be.

So we are working on the development of inclusive and accessible design methods to ensure all citizens who want to can participate in the design of the services they use fairly and equally. And we are committed to improving the diversity of our design community through, for example, focussing on how we recruit and redesigning our workplace adjustments process to ensure we support and retain people after recruitment.

Learning together

The International Design in Government Conference provides all of us with an opportunity to share with and learn from each other as we strive in our different ways to  encourage, empower and enable citizens to participate in designing the services they need.

How to get involved

My ask of the government design community in Scotland and beyond is to help shape the agenda around our theme, ‘Participation’. What does this mean to you and your work? What kinds of events and sessions would you like to see around the theme?  By commenting on this blog post or emailing

If you work in a design profession in any government across the world and you’d like to attend the conference, join the Google group and look out for the call for speakers and ticket details.

See the full International Design in Government events schedule for 2019.

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  • David says:

    I’m looking forward to attending this event and meeting fellow designers in government.
    I’d like to hear more about the processes used iterate through designs for design systems & patterns; from prototype to testing with users to release.

  • Gayle Rice says:

    Hi, great conference theme. I’d like to engage in conversations about starting from where people are at, exploring the value of being able to ‘see what you mean’, developing a language around the barriers to implementation and around the various guises impact can take.

  • Kate says:

    I would love to hear stories of when participation / co-design / co-production (whatever the best terminology!) is working well between citizens and government & equally (importantly) when it hasn’t worked well and what we can learn from these experiences. What are the barriers to participation, how can we work around them and what participatory principles should we be embedding in our practice. My experience of being a designer in the public sector has involved a lot of ‘us’ and ‘them’ which takes time to overcome – what can we do to make this easier?

  • Shona says:

    I would love to see a theme on Data services across the public service which promote public health improvements and would be keen to show some of the ways that the team in NSS Public Health Intelligence have been using personas and user design techniques to improve the digital content of statistical and other data publications. So much opportunity for further improvements but good collaboration across a range of public sector data teams to date.

  • Fraser says:

    Love the theme. I’m no design guru but i would like to see a session on collaborative option appraisal and option development. Fits nicely with the junk I’ve been working on at

  • Amy Dalrymple says:

    To me, the crux of the matter is using design to embed participation in processes and institutions. In particular, health and social care are crying out for this approach: transformation is necessary but almost impossible, politically. But design rather than reactive decisions, using truly participative processes, might just come up with solutions with public and political credibility bedded in from the start, to address seemingly intractable issues around how to shift focus and resource from crisis driven acute bricks and mortar based services to community based preventative interventions that really address what people need and want for their care.

  • Douglas says:

    “Privacy by Design’ should be included somewhere on the Agenda – and with that a common user journey can be enhanced.

  • Gavin says:


    Sounds great, I’d love to see something on selling the idea of the importance of design within government organisations and the participation of various stakeholders in the design process. How to go about making it part of the culture of government organisations where its non existent, easy wins, and just getting started.

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