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Purpose, scope and development of the Standard

Find out why and how we are developing the Standard, the way it’s intended to be used, and how you can help improve it.


During May and June 2019 workshops were set up to get a better understanding of what a compliance model for the Standard should include. For an update on this work see the blog post Digital Service Design Standard - Assessment Framework recommendations

Improving government services in the digital age

The purpose of the Standard is to provide the design thinking for anyone who designs or provides government services. It supports the government to provide public services that are easily accessible, integrated, inclusive and trusted by all New Zealanders.

As a sector, the whole of government should move away from siloed and agency-centric services with low-user community input, to more open, inclusive and co-designed services. These principles form the foundation of New Zealand Government’s shift to becoming more responsive, open, citizen-centric and user-focused. 

The Standard supports New Zealand’s role as one of the Digital 9 (D9) leading digital nations.

The Digital 9

Taking a collaborative design approach

In early 2018, we engaged with key interest groups, stakeholders, and the government web community to develop the Standard. This open engagement approach helped us to:

  • define its principles
  • produce a standard that supports government to design and deliver excellent services for the people of New Zealand
  • develop a standard that suits the needs of the New Zealand digital environment.

The Standard provides an ‘umbrella’ approach, bringing together existing guidance and directives, and does not ‘re-invent the wheel’. We referred to our local standards and guidance, the principles adopted by our Digital Nations partners, as well as international best practice.

Continuous improvement

This is a ‘living standard’ and it will evolve over time as we adapt to our changing environment and as our collective maturity increases. 



We encourage any other public sector services to follow the Standard even if they don’t fall within scope for assessment.

What services are covered?

The Digital Service Design Standard applies to New Zealand Government information and transactional services that are:

  • public facing and/or inter-agency
  • undertaken by third parties on behalf of government agencies
  • new informational or transactional services (designed or redesigned after 30 June 2018)
  • reviewing or redesigning existing services.

Information services are typically websites, or mobile applications, that provide information to the public. This information often includes reports, fact sheets and video.

Transactional services are any services that lead to a change in the records held by government. They typically involve an exchange of information, money, licenses or goods. Examples of transactional services include:

  • submitting a claim
  • registering a business
  • updating contact details
  • registering a birth.

How do we comply with the Standard?

The Standard will support agencies by bringing together unified and consistent guidance on the design, development and implementation of digital services to enable and drive system-wide benefits.

We have collated a suite of references, guidance resources and existing directives, which inform how agencies can demonstrate ways to conform to the Standard. Wherever possible, we have referred to existing guidance and directives to build on our current best practice and mandates. However, our assessment model has not yet been established. We have undertaken an assessment of our current state in New Zealand, and an assessment of the international environment, to propose four discussion model options for our forthcoming assessment consultation process. These are:

  1. The Standard is a discretionary resource to inform government agencies when designing services, with a suite of reference guidance supplied.
  2. The Standard is a discretionary standard supported by a self-reported, self-assessment maturity model, with a suite of reference guidance supplied.
  3. The Standard is a discretionary standard underpinned by a centrally-reported, self-assessment maturity model, and supported by centralised support resources.
  4. The Standard has a centralised mandated governance model (e.g. design authority) and supporting conformance structures.

These discussion models are not final options; they are primarily a mechanism to stimulate debate and surface potential barriers, concerns and opportunities.

The Standard itself is not intended to be published or read in isolation. Any decisions on assessment models will need to be considered within the context of broader, emerging government strategy, standards, and guidance, and/or any related ongoing digital and all-of-government initiatives.

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