Mark Hurrell.

Design System accessibility hack day
Updated colour palette to meet the updated EU accessibility laws
Testing design patterns in the research lab
Brand elements in the GOV.UK Design System
Design patterns detail
GOV.UK Design System patterns poster
Whitespace measures across the whole type scale

GOV.UK Design System

Creative direction for Government Digital Service

2015  2019

The GOV.UK visual identity and brand was created iteratively and at pace, minimally documented and mainly communicated informally on mailing lists, GitHub and Slack. As the design language matured and stabilised, and hundreds of teams across government began to use it, standardising, formalising and scaling made sense.

Based on initial work by frontend developer Gemma Leigh, Tim Paul set up a team to build it out into a modern design system. Providing code snippets in HTML, CSS and JavaScript, also means that accessibility fixes can be distributed across GOV.UK. The design system also includes typography, grids, whitespace, spatial behaviours (like z-axis layering, motion and layout manipulation) and accessibility compliance for legibility factors.

The GOV.UK design system is now used by hundreds of UK government departments, as well as inspiring successful private sector scaleups like Bulb Energy. It was also important from a cultural perspective. While the design system is led out of GDS, digital teams across government can contribute improvements and new ideas, so everyone can benefit from what they’re learning.

As Head of Graphic Design for GDS I oversaw every aspect of the design system relating to brand language. See also: GOV.UK visual identity and brand, and GDS brand and communications


Design system team led by Tim Paul, with design from Debs Durojaiye, David House, Joe Lanman, Ignacia Orellana and the rest of the team, based on initial prototypes by Gemma Leigh and contributions by designers across government. Overall design direction from Lou Downe. Visual language and branding designed with additional input from Mia Allers, Laurence Berry, Conor Delahunty, Stephen McCarthy, Christopher Thomas and Sonia Turcotte.

Selected projects