What local government service patterns are

Local government service patterns outline best practice for providing services that meet user needs. This means the design of the pages, user journeys and government components needed to build the service are all specified.

The 2 patterns that currently exist have been created by GDS in collaboration with service teams in local councils based on extensive user research. The patterns also meet requirements for fraud risk, privacy law and accessibility.

Following a pattern

Patterns outline current best practice in service design and delivery. To follow a service pattern:

  • Steps in the user journey must be in the same order as the example service, with no missing or extra pages.
  • The content must match the example service exactly, with no extra or missing words, buttons or other elements.
  • Form and text elements must match the example service – this includes but is not limited to:
    • using radio buttons where there are radio buttons
    • checkboxes where there are checkboxes
    • replicating the heading and link style hierarchy
    • using sentence case at all times
    • following bullet point style

Valid reasons to deviate from a pattern include:

  • local information, for example parking boundary names or prices
  • local service delivery variations, for example policy about when parking permits are issued, or technical constraints meaning the recommended design can’t be implemented

Patterns are subject to change. Make sure your service is up to date with the latest version of a pattern.

Feeding back on a pattern

Before you use a pattern, you should test a prototype with your local users to make sure it works in your context.

If you find issues come up in this research, share your research insights via the link on the page. If the issue affects users in all areas, it will be worked on by GDS. If it is a genuine local issue, GDS and the council should co-ordinate who works on it.

If you have a design improvement that has tested positively with users and should be incorporated into the shared pattern, you can feed that back on the relevant page.

Local deviations from a pattern

If both GDS and the council have agreed there is a genuine need for a local variation from a pattern, a local solution can be designed.

Any local solutions must:

  1. Be in writing for web best practice style.
  2. Pass an accessibility review.
  3. Pass a privacy review.
  4. Pass a fraud review.
  5. Go through at least one round of user research with the majority of users being able to complete the service without assistance.
  6. Include readily available support channels for those who need them.

The local solution will then be documented in the pattern.

Branding and style

The common prototype uses GOV.UK styles as its base, with each council’s branding applied on top of those base styles. GDS recommends you follow this principle across the whole of your council’s website, using the GOV.UK frontend toolkit with additional CSS consistent with your council's brand, as well as following the GOV.UK content style guide.

The GOV.UK design patterns have been extensively tested and are used in all government services. Following these patterns will enable you to be sure that you are following current best practice, and to be consistent with other government services.

As a bare minimum, your website’s global styles must meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidance. These points include having text that is big enough to read, and using colours that meet contrast minimums.

Common accessibility points for council websites

This list is in progress.