Ben Holliday

The last 12 months

12 months is a long time, but a year later I’m wondering where the time has gone.

Last September I left FreeAgent – a company I really enjoyed working for. I was there 2 years, did a crazy commute and learnt a lot about researching, designing, and building great products.

I surprised myself by leaving. I was finally persuaded by the opportunity to work with the Government Digital Service (GDS) and to be part of Leisa Reichelt’s User Research team.

It turned out to be a great decision, not only did I get to work with GDS, I’ve been researching and designing for a Digital Transformation Exemplar project closer to home in Preston.

It’s been challenging, but we’ve built something good in a way that means we’re still working hard to meet user needs.

It’s been great learning from the other researchers and designers at GDS. I still stand by the importance of having good design principles – something I’ve always talked about. Working with the GDS design principles on a complex Government project was exactly why I took the job.


While I’ve been working on this project I’ve had a unique opportunity to blog and talk very openly about the work we’re doing. The following are some of the posts I’ve written over the last few months:

Do less – Problems as shared spaces

Reversing a circle of mistrust

Metrics that matter and user research

6 case studies: using research and data to improve a live service

Case study: Improving the Carer’s Allowance guide on GOV.UK

Doing less. The Inverted-U


Working with GDS has led to speaking opportunities this year. I has a great time speaking at CodeFest in August and I’m looking forward to NUX3 in Manchester this November – I’ll be bringing together lots of the thoughts in my recent blog posts.

Next steps

So last Friday marked the official end to my time with GDS but I’m pleased to be staying on in Government to work in a new role of Digital Head of User Experience at the Department for Work and Pensions. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

This is my blog where I’ve been writing for 18 years. You can follow all of my posts by subscribing to this RSS feed. You can also find me on Bluesky, less frequently now on X (formally Twitter), and on LinkedIn.