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  2. GOV.UK Design History

What is a design history?

A design history can help teams log design decisions and create a permanent record of how a service has developed over time.

When designing and building a service, it can be easy to forget why previous decisions were made, even more so as new people join the team and others leave. A design history can help by creating a permanent record.

A design history site is like a blog, with posts describing the development of new features, iterations of existing ones or findings from user research – anything that may be useful to return to later.

This project was developed by the Becoming a teacher team at the Department for Education who found that by keeping a design history, they could:

  • re-evaluate decisions
  • see how a feature changed over time
  • see how things tested in research
  • give context to new team members
  • demonstrate reasons why certain features did not work
  • create snapshots of how things looked at significant milestones
  • share design decisions across government
  • share everything with service assessors

As of February 2020, the Becoming a teacher design history includes more than 200 posts documenting 5 different services. You can learn more about how and why the team created their design history on the DfE Digital blog.