A week in my life as a content designer

I’m a Senior Content Designer at the Government Digital Service (GDS). I work on the Design System team, who built and maintains the GOV.UK Design System.

I’m writing this in response to Amy Grinstead’s article A week in the life of a content designer.

Amy’s calling for content designers, like me, to share their #ContentDesignWeek as a way of helping organisations better understand what content designers do.

Like Amy says, we still have work to do when it comes to showcasing the value of content design, so with that in mind, here’s what I’ve been up to this week.


We offer a daily support service to our users, helping them with any questions they have, or if they get stuck using the Design System or the GOV.UK Prototype Kit or GOV.UK Frontend - which our team also looks after.

Each day, members of the team take it in turns to monitor emails, Slack messages and GitHub repos for questions coming in, and Monday was my day.

When I wasn’t answering questions from our users, I was chipping away at our accessibility statement.

Last year, a new piece of legislation known as the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 came into force.

This means that public sector websites, like ours, need to do work to be more accessible for everyone, including people with:

  • impaired vision
  • motor difficulties
  • cognitive impairments or learning disabilities
  • deafness or impaired hearing

This includes publishing an accessibility statement, outlining where our site meets accessibility standards, where it doesn’t, why that is, and what we’re going to do about it.

I’ve been trying to understand the rules around it, what it needs to include, what’s negotiable and what isn’t.

In the afternoon, me and our tech lead, Ollie, were interviewed by design systems legend Nathan Curtis about how we’ve supported contribution to the Design System.

We were the 3rd set of interviewees in a series Nathan’s doing, and I’m looking forward to seeing how our experience compares with the others he’s spoken to.


Tuesday is usually meetings day, and this Tuesday was no exception.

We started the day with a team retro, and then I met with Tim our Product Manager and Kelly, our Delivery Manager, to talk about content priorities for the next 3 months.

I’d like us to establish a content maintenance process. At the moment, we review content periodically for accuracy and up-to-dateness, but it’s done on a fairly ad hoc basis, and as the Design System grows, we’re going to need something a bit more formalised.

In the afternoon, I caught up with Ollie and one of our Interaction Designers, Debs, to talk about shipping some improvements we’ve made to the GOV.UK Prototype Kit guidance.

The Prototype Kit is a prototyping tool that lets users create high-fidelity prototypes that look and feel like real GOV.UK services using HTML and CSS.

We want to make it easier for people to get started with the Prototype Kit without having to wait to attend one of our training courses which we only run a few times a year.

In the evening, I caught up with a couple of people I’m coaching as part of the 10 More Blog Posts initiative I set up in August. It’s a buddy system, where aspiring bloggers can team up with content coaches, who help them write a blog in exchange for learning more about their area of expertise.

So far, we’ve got 21 pairs, we’ve had 4 blog posts published and there’s many more underway.


I started Wednesday with some work on my presentation for NUX8, a UX conference I’m speaking at in a few weeks time.

I’m going to be talking about principles for writing inclusive documentation, looking at how we’ve approached it in the GOV.UK Design System.

In the afternoon, our other Interaction Designer, Dave, and I met with Adam, Amanda and Gemma from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to discuss a contribution they’re making to the Design System.

They’ve been working on a design pattern to follow when asking users for bank details. With minimal support from us, they’ve done an excellent job and I’m looking forward to getting it published in the next few weeks, once it’s been reviewed by the working group.


On Thursday I worked at home. In between remote meetings, I caught up on emails and did a bit more work on my NUX8 presentation.

I gave MoJ’s bank details guidance a 2i (we use this at GDS as a shorthand for ‘second pair of eyes’—basically a content edit) and sent it off to the working group.

I usually organise and run the working group review sessions each month. We run them remotely using Google Hangouts, and we’ve done lots of work over the past year or so to make sure they’re constructive and inclusive for both working group members and contributors.


In the afternoon, I facilitated the Design System catchup—a weekly hangout for people across government to get together and talk about design systems, patterns, tools and common challenges we share in this area.

This week, we talked about the challenges of getting people to contribute their work to design systems (this is a really important part of making sure they’re representative) and some of the different ways we’ve approached this in our teams.

I always find these calls really valuable. It’s great to hear what others are working on, and it’s nice to find reassurance that your problems aren’t unique.

Content designers: get involved

Join me in sharing your week as a content designer, and post it on Twitter with #ContentDesignWeek