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GovStack Principles

  1. Design with the user: User-centered design starts with getting to know the people you are designing for through conversation, observation, and co-creation.
  2. Understand the existing ecosystem: Well-designed initiatives and digital tools consider the particular structures and needs that exist in each country, region, and community.
  3. Design for scale: Achieving scale requires adoption beyond an initiative’s pilot population and often necessitates securing funding or partners that take the initiative to new communities or regions.
  4. Build for Sustainability: Building sustainable programs, platforms and digital tools is essential to maintain user and stakeholder support, as well as to maximize long-term impact.
  5. Be Data Driven: When an initiative is data-driven, quality information is available to the right people when they need it, and they are using it to take action.
  6. Use Open Standards, open Data, Open Source, and Open Innovation: An open approach to digital development can help to increase collaboration in the digital development community and avoid duplicating work that has already been done.
  7. Reuse and Improve: Reusing and improving is about taking the work of the global development community further than any organization or program can do alone.
  8. Address Privacy and Security: Addressing privacy and security in digital development involves careful consideration of which data are collected and how data are acquired, used, stored and shared.
  9. Be collaborative: Being collaborative means sharing information, insights, strategies and resources across projects, organizations and sectors, leading to increased efficiency and impact.
  10. Iterate then Iterate again: The best way to build good digital government services is to start small and iterate wildly. Release minimum viable products early, test them with actual users, move from version to version adding features based on feedback. Iteration reduces risk.
  11. Maintain trace: We should share what we’re doing whenever we can. With colleagues, with users, and with the world. Share code, share designs, share ideas, share intentions, share failures. The more eyes there are on a service, the better it gets, and the bar is raised.
  12. Build Digital Services, not websites: A service is something that helps people to do something. Our job is to uncover user needs and build the service that meets those needs. Of course, much of that will be pages on the web, but we’re not here to build websites.
  13. Design for everyone: Accessible design is good design. Services should be as inclusive, legible and readable as possible. Services should be built for needs and designed for the whole country, not just the ones who are used to using the web.  It needs to be ensured that technologies do not discriminate against any individual or group based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics.
  14. Do the hard work to make it simple: Making something look simple is easy. Making something simple to use is much harder. Don’t take “It’s always been that way” for an answer. It’s usually more and harder work to make things simple, but it’s the right thing to do.
  15. Adherence to International Human Rights Standards: Technologies should promote international human rights standards, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ensuring alignment of design, access and security accordingly.
  16. Transparency and Accountability: We encourage to observe Transparency and Accountability of activities related to the impact of technologies on human rights. This relates to Openness regarding data handling, algorithms, and decision-making processes towards users of the services.

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