Digital transformation glossary

Below is a list of terms and concepts used in our guidance. This is provided to help you understand how we use these terms.

Please note these definitions do not cover all uses of these words in all contexts. If you would like us to add anything or you want to give feedback, please email



Making sure everyone who needs your service can reach it, use it and understand it.

Affinity mapping

A technique to find patterns in data. This involves taking raw data and forming groups based on similarities.


Agile is a set of principles, behaviours and approaches to delivering work iteratively. It allows teams to deliver value quickly and often.


The experimental stage of the service design and delivery process. The team builds prototypes, learns and iterates quickly. This helps find the right solution.


A communication tool based on user research. It supports the development of a service or product. Artefacts include: 

  • service maps
  • journey maps
  • user stories
  • prototypes


An expert or practitioner in a digital discipline. They sit on a panel which assesses services against the Digital Service Standard.



The building and iterating stage of the service design and delivery process. The team builds a minimum viable product from the solution identified in Alpha. It releases this to users and keeps improving the service.



A way to make sure services meet the Digital Service Standard. A team of experts checks in regularly during design and development. It focuses on continuous improvement.

Community of practice

A group of people who share a discipline or work focus. This community allows them to work together on best practice. It also lets them showcase ongoing work and solve common problems together.

Content audit

A process to understand the quality and amount of content on a website, product or service.

Content design

An approach focusing on content that best serves users’ needs. It may include:

  • text
  • images
  • videos
  • charts
  • calculators
  • infographics

Content Guide

A guide to help teams design and write simple, clear and fast digital content. It helps teams design content that is accessible for all users.

Content strategy

A practice focused on creation, delivery and management of content. It sets the foundation for creating useful, usable content.

Continuous delivery

Working on a product or service every sprint to better meet user needs. 


Digital Service Standard

13 best-practice principles to design and deliver services. It helps teams build services that are simple, clear and fast.

Digital transformation

A way of working that transforms experiences for users. It keeps the whole service in mind while considering new approaches, tools and technology. 



The exploring and learning stage of the service design and delivery process. The team researches user needs. It also maps the service landscape.


Empathy wall

A communication tool to visualise research. It helps the team keep users in mind when they are designing.


A type of user story that is usually too big to do in one iteration. These can break down into smaller stories or tasks.

Evaluative research

A set of methods used to test whether a design meets user needs and is easy to access and use. An example is usability testing.



Designing products or services to ensure they are fit for purpose. They should also meet the intended need and criteria for success. For example:

  • operation
  • performance
  • safety
  • readability
  • quality


In-flight assessment

An informal assessment of a product or service against the Digital Service Standard. It shows the team how it’s progressing before a stage assessment.

Informed consent

A process to gain understanding between a user researcher and participant. It details the purpose of the research. It also explains the intended use of the information collected. Informed consent includes getting a record from the participant. This is to show they agree to take part.


To deliver more value to users through an update to a product or service. 


Journey map

A map showing all interactions and pain points a user has with a product or service.


Kanban board

A tool to visualise and optimise the flow of a team’s work. A basic board has a 3-step workflow: to do, in progress and done.



The continuous improvement stage of the service design and delivery process. The team releases and maintains the new service. It retires any prior service or product.



Information about data, such as its size or creation date.

Minimum viable product

The minimum solution the team can build that meets user needs. It delivers value quickly and can be iterated and tested for improvements.

Multidisciplinary team

A team with all the skills required to deliver products and services based on user needs. They work in agile ways and apply user-centred design practices. The team works together on the same part of the service at the same time. They change and adapt and have authority to make quick decisions. 


Open data

A type of data available to all. It is:

  • discoverable
  • accessible
  • machine readable
  • reusable

It gives people information to deliver better services.

Open source

Open source code can be used, redistributed and modified by anyone. Open source helps to:

  • reduce costs
  • avoid lock-in
  • stop duplication
  • increase transparency

It also adds benefits from improvements by other developers.


Performance Dashboard

This tool collects data and reports on the performance of government services. It makes this information open and easy to access.


A simple model that shows how a service or product could work. It can be on paper or in code and is used to seek early feedback from users.


A free or paid application or system that the general public can access.



A visual way of communicating the vision and direction of your product or service over time. It shows what is being built and why.


Secure services

A system, program or service is secure if it has been:

  • security tested
  • uses best-practice security
  • complies with relevant policies

Service design and delivery process

A process to design and deliver government services that focus on user needs. It helps teams start small, learn fast and deliver quickly. This reduces costs and service failures. The process is part of meeting the Digital Service Standard.

Stage assessment

A formal assessment of a service against the Digital Service Standard. It it used to move from one stage of the service design and delivery process to the next.

Subject expert

Someone with a deep understanding or special skills in an area of expertise. They share knowledge to help the team design and deliver services that meet user needs.



The ways a person or business interacts with government to complete a task. This includes contact by:
  • accessing a website
  • visits in person
  • email
  • phone
  • mail

Transactional services

Services that affect records held by government. These are usually an exchange of:

  • information
  • money
  • licences
  • goods

High-volume services are defined as those having more than 50,000 transactions a year.



All people who interact with a service including:

  • the users of the service
  • the people delivering the service
  • anyone who supports end users to access the service


User interview

A way to learn more about users. It helps you understand their experiences, needs and motivations. Each interview involves only one participant. The researcher guides the session based on the research objectives.

User research

An ongoing process to understand user behaviours, needs and motivations. It supports the team to understand the people they are designing for. This helps make services that meet user needs.

User story

A user story describes why and how a user interacts with services and information. It takes the form of:

As a [role]
I want [goal/need/desire]
so that [benefit].

For example:

As a new parent
I want to understand childcare payments
so that I can return to work.

User-centred design

An approach to solving problems that revolves around users and their needs. It focuses on understanding users and their needs at every step of the service design process.


Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

Recommendations and guidelines to make web content accessible to people with access needs.