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NHS Design Principles

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 that's steered the NHS for 70 years.

NHS 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.