designer Ben Terrett leaves Government Digital Service

Terrett, who is resigning in the wake of GDS lead Mike Bracken’s departure, says: “Every designer should work in the public sector.”

Ben Terrett at Design Indaba
Ben Terrett at Design Indaba in 2013

Government Digital Service director of design Ben Terrett, who led the award-winning project, has announced he is leaving his post.

Terrett says he has handed in his resignation following the departure of Mike Bracken, former executive director of digital in Cabinet Office. He says he currently doesn’t have another role to go to.

Bracken helped to bring Terrett into the government role and announced earlier this month that he is leaving. replaced hundreds of Government websites

Terrett joined Cabinet Office in 2012, when GDS was set up as a result of Martha Lane Fox’s Digital by Default report. Prior to that he was design director at Wieden + Kennedy.

During his time at GDS, Terrett led the design work on – the new British Government digital hub. launched in beta form in 2012 and replaced hundreds of public sector sites. It has wrapped in ministerial departments including the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence and organisations such as the Driving Standards Agency and HM Revenue and Customs.

Won a D&AD Black Pencil and named Design of the Year

Since its implementation, has become a one-stop shop for Government services in the UK, letting people register for a birth certificate, apply for UK citizenship or find out when the next Bank Holiday is, all in one place. has been hailed for its design – in 2013 it won a Black Pencil at the D&AD Awards and was named Design of the Year by the Design Museum.

The site design, Terrett says, was built around clarity, simplicity and “a relentless focus on the user”. The GDS team worked with Margaret Calvert on the project, and Terrett says her support “proved vital”.

“Every designer should work in the public sector”

Announcing his resignation, Terrett says: “Every designer should work in the public sector. Being a civil servant and using your talents to help the people in your country is an honour.

“In an industry so often obsessed with novelty and persuasion, government is a chance to do real design work. If the government started a fast stream programme for design grads it would start to change the industry and make services better at the same time.”

He adds: “Winning Design of the year was an unexpected and high profile highlight and I’ll always enjoy those memories. But I am genuinely more delighted when people tell me how easy they have found using a particular transaction or service.

Terrett is one of several senior departures at GDS

“The other highlight is the design community we have started. Design is not just in GDS, there are six heads of design in government now and the community is blossoming.”

As well as Bracken and Terrett, GDS deputy director Tom Loosemore and director of strategy Russell Davies are also leaving the organisation.

Former chief operating officer Stephen Foreshew-Cain is now leading the organisation, while Wendy Coello, former digital engagement lead, is taking on responsibility for digital design.

Discover more:

‘Milestone’ reached as Number 10 website joins

• goes worldwide

• Government launches one-stop-shop website

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Mike Dempsey August 12, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Not a good sign when so many leave the ship. I hope this does not mean an erosion of Terrett’s sterling work.

  • Robert Levison August 13, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Funnily enough there used to be a programme for design that changed the industry and made government services better at the same time – Before transferring to the Cabinet Office, the reorganisation of UK Government websites began under the auspices of the COI before its enforced closure in 2011. But I agree with Ben that every designer should take the opportunity to work in the public sector. Building on the legacy of design greats such as Beck, Games and Calvert & Kinneir is indeed an honour.

  • massimo October 4, 2017 at 1:45 am


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