Centre for Digital Public Services (CDPS)

Discovering the need for a design system for Wales

  • Centre for Digital Public Services (CDPS)
  • Comms & Engagement
  • Service Design

CDPS (Centre for Digital Public Service) tasked Perago with delivering an 11-week discovery project. The project’s sole aim was to provide recommendations and validations for the initial problem statement, does Wales need a simpler and more joined-up design system?

CDPS would then progress based on the research’s recommendations and findings.


Regular internal stand-up meetings ensured project clarity and progress, while weekly notes to CDPS internal stakeholders kept everyone aligned on goals and deliverables. Additionally, we delivered three show-and-tells at key project stages to external stakeholders.

Our discovery included user research with potential users from around the Welsh public sector to gain insights into:

→ How teams currently build services.

→ User needs for a design system.

→ The different team shapes of those who currently build services.

→ Behaviours, goals, and frustrations.

We also explored:

→ How we can build on existing good practice and open-source resources.

→ Constraints, opportunities, or challenges – for example, because of technology or legislation.

→ Similarities and differences between the needs of different public sector bodies – are the requirements, constraints and needs the same in health, local government, Welsh Government, and arm’s length bodies?

→ Recommendations for an alpha phase.

  • Delivered bespoke outreach communications support: We collaborated closely with the CDPS communication team to curate and publish research content effectively.
  • Desk research: We analysed existing design systems within the UK (Gov.uk) and bilingual systems (Ontario, Canada).
  • Interviews: In-depth conversations with key stakeholders across various public sector bodies provided valuable insights and perspectives.
  • Surveys: An online survey captured quantitative data on design system preferences, needs, and challenges faced by professionals in the field.

Key Findings

  • Awareness, but not confidence: While many respondents were familiar with the concept of design systems, a gap emerged between awareness and practical knowledge.
  • Limited collaboration: A recurring theme was a lack of opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing across the Welsh public sector.
  • Resource disparity: Significant disparities exist in digital teams’ size, structure, and skillsets across public bodies. This impacts the ability to deliver consistent and effective digital services.
  • Standards and user research: While many expressed confidence in user research and accessibility compliance, a drop-off was observed when it came to demonstrating how this is achieved in practice.
  • Leadership matters: Strong leadership commitment to digital transformation significantly impacts the resources allocated to digital teams and their ability to deliver quality services.


Perago’s expertise in outreach and engagement was instrumental in helping us reach a wide audience for this piece of work.

Their approach to working in the open; weeknotes, blogposts and show and tells, were all things that meant the work was accessible and visible – and led to more interaction with organisations we may not otherwise have engaged with.

These views are important to us, and we are now looking at their recommendations to see which ones we prioritise and take forward.

Jo Goodwin
Head of User Centred Design and Delivery
Centre for Digital Public Services/Canolfan Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus Digidol

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