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Digital services in the public sector must have user-centred design as a ‘primary focus’ if people are to benefit from IT growth, the report “Designing the Digital Economy” claims.

The report, commissioned by the British Parliament’s Design and Innovation Group, describes designers as “critical agents able to mediate between people, places and technology”.

“They have the ability to ask bigger questions that put people at the centre of the digital economy – not the technology itself.

But designers need to wrestle back the innovation agenda and work with technologists to create new forms of social and economic value in the evergrowing Digital Economy.

Chief User Officer…

The recommendations of Designing the Digital Economy

*Appointing a Head of Design for digital platforms in each government department.

*Government should find ways to embed designers in testbed big data projects.

*Large infrastructure projects such as HS2 should appoint a Chief User Officer to ensure the effective, relevant and transparent use of big data.

*The design sector should be encouraged to partner technologists and regional development mechanisms to develop Digital Design Clusters which work together to develop networks of design-led digital activities.

*Children, further education students and undergraduates should be taught using up-to-date design software or open source platforms.

*Whilst the UK will be the first country in the world to teach children how to code as part of the curriculum (from 2015), there are still measures that can be taken to close the skills gap now.

*Expand and develop the Research Councils UK funding work on linking design to the digital economy.