Lou Downe

Keynote, Director of Design, UK Government

Lou Downe is Director of Design and Service Standards for the UK Government at the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Lou joined the UK Government in 2014 and founded the discipline of service design in government. Four years later, they now lead a community of over 3,000 designers, user researchers and content designers across government – and the direction of a £5m programme of design standards, products, and activities focussed on enabling government to transform services to meet user needs.

Lou was nominated in 2016 as one for the top 50 creative leaders in the UK, is a passionate believer in the responsibility of design to create a world which benefits everyone and is a prominent protagonist for transparency and ethics in the design industry.


  • Founded the practice of service design in government
  • Authored the UK government’s strategy for service design within the Government Transformation Strategy
  • Founded a £5M programme of teams working on service transformation across government – including the Performance Platform, Service Manual & Service Toolkit, design patterns, GOV.UK Frontend, accessibility and inclusion, cross government service design and policy and delivery training
  • Created the public sector’s first ever Design System for the UK government design community to share and contribute to patterns
  • Established and grew a community of over 3,000 designers, user researchers and content designers working on services across government
  • Re-wrote the government’s Service Standard in collaboration with departments to reflect true end-to-end service design and emerging technologies.
  • Established an international international government design consortium working to set global standards for country-critical services such as immigration and healthcare. Hosting the first international conference for government designers with over 250 designers form 52 countries
  • Established a design leadership network and recruited 12 heads of design to lead key delivery departments in government
  • Created a long-term support service to enable government to restructure around services sustainably
  • Created a formal training and apprenticeship scheme to enable designers to join the government design community across the UK leading to a 500% growth in the Government design community in 2 years