Service Design Network STL Meetup – some notes

Notes from the June 2016 meetup of the SDN STL chapter.


Behind the Federal Front Door: Citizen-Centered Service Design (Brad Nunnally)


Ninety-four percent of federal IT projects are over budget / schedule. Huge budget (in the $Bs), most of maintenance and legacy.

Brad is from 18F. All products they create are open source (free as in beer), they provide services to other federal agencies. Has grown quite a bit over last year or so, up to 190 people. Many on “temporary” assignment while on sabbatical from their regular job.

Brad is currently working on the Federal Front Door.

Contrary to what many think, the Federal government is not a monolithic organization, it is made up of many (many) independent organizations, each with their own “CEO”, “CTO”, etc. How do you design a consistent experience across all of government?

“It’s too good to be a Government website”, some people’s reactions, so they need to to put in a bit of artificial friction to make it easier to accept.

Met with people in different areas around the country. Conducted interviews and diary studies. Focused on life events with general users. Diary study with librarians. (Librarians can’t help people on the web, just point them to the computers?)

They’ve learned a lot, not many answers yet. Three main problems:

  • Capacity – not enough workforce to cover all citizen needs
  • Digital infrastructure – it sucks (OK, Brad said, “It’s bad”)
    • much of it doesn’t even have https yet
    • it is bad in large part due to the procurement process
    • launched this week, agile bpa
  • One-sizefits-all approach –
    • privacy, for example, is diverse not cookie cutter

Other considerations

  • digital literacy
  • digital access
    • a lot of mobile, drives design
  • English fluency


  • Personal – what’s happening in your life
  • Governmental – what gov’t is doing to you

nts: the problem is much much larger than the digital front door; the actual citizen facing services need significant work.

People don’t trust the government with their information. But the government already has all of your information. Why do they keep asking you for the same information over and over?  FAFSA is a good example of one org sharing / pulling with another.

Front door:

  • Web standards
    • 508 compliant
    • design standards web site, on github
    • Verterans, USAJobs are starting to use these standards
    • Open Opps
    • Local gov’ts
  • Sharing data between silos
    • Import
    • Share,,

How to design a service – Intro to Service Design (Nathan Lucy)

sdnstl_nl.jpgWhat is a service: the use of one’s competences for the benefit of another. (from the body of knowledge known as “common sense”.) The fundamental basis of exchange, the foundation of economics.

Money is a medium for exchanage (see “Google bus”). A means of transaction, not storage.

Beneficiary is always a co-creator of value. There is no value without a consumer, and they always determine the value.

No one wants a 1/4″ drill, they want a 1/4″ hole. Many ways to get a hole, to deliver that service. Buy the drill, HILTI, use a knife, etc.

Research. Synthesis. Ideation. Prototyping. Testing.


We used as a way to share part of the presentation, need to learn more about that.

Next meetup – 6 October.