Digital public services are about feel as well as function.

This report draws on our work with governments worldwide and the best thinking from marketing and communications. It looks forward to the next evolution in digital government and digital public services, a model we call ‘’ This report describes the four key transitions to reach and offers guidance on how to achieve them.

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The Digital Journey

For many governments, the journey of digital transformation began well over a decade ago: from the earliest programmes that aimed simply to provide information on websites; to the online delivery of transactions such as tax, benefits and licensing; to the latest initiatives that seek to provide citizens with personalised digital experiences.

At each stage in the journey we see governments becoming more sophisticated in how they seek to engage with their citizens online and a growing sense of ambition for how digital can enhance the varied relationships between citizens and state.

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Brand Experience takes a brand experience approach to digital public services. It considers the look and feel of digital experiences, as well as tone of voice, interaction and user journeys.

Digital brand experience is about what users think, feel and do when they interact with a brand online. It drives outcomes (e.g. engagement, completed transactions) as well as reputation and satisfaction. Digital brand experience design considers look and feel, voice, interaction and journeys.

Diversity of Experiences offers a diversity of experiences to reflect the different types of relationships that citizens want from their public services. For example, citizens expect a different kind of relationship with their tax authority from the relationship they have with elderly care services.

Brand Architecture

The need for diverse experiences must be balanced with the need for government to appear cohesive and coordinated. Getting this right requires a nuanced brand architecture, rooted in the local political context. Multiple brand experiences need not undermine the cost benefits of centralising government digital infrastructure.

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The Evolution of Digital Government

Governments have always looked to control costs but now also need to meet rising expectations of online service fuelled by the experiences citizens have as consumers.

We’re entering a new phase of digital government – one that will be based on personalized citizen experiences.

We call this next phase ‘’

  • Digital will become the nexus for relationships between citizens and state
  • Public services provided in-person, on paper or by phone will move online Issues of satisfaction, trust, reputation, inclusion and identity will be shaped by digital experience
  • Functionality (does it work?) and quantity (speed, cost) will be important but so too will the quality of experience: how does it make you feel?


    Early sites are online noticeboards, making government more visible but not necessarily accessible. The offer is fragmented and based on internal organisational structure not user needs. There are few online interactions or transactions. Government digital is dominated by IT departments, often distant from content and policy creators.

    Most governments are now somewhere on the journey from to They aim to provide a single entry point to access digital services, cutting across departmental silos with a more coherent,citizen-centric offer. Online interaction is increasingly provided for common or expensive transactions. Agile project management techniques, deep user research and iterative user testing are common.

    The next stage transitions relationships online – holistic digital experiences tailored to individual needs. Digital journeys begin and end in the real world, moving seamlessly between government channels and search, social media, advertising, email, CRMand apps.

    Design is driven by deeper, broader insight into how users feel about their service experiences and how that drives outcomes. Agile iteration supported by machine learning continuously improves algorithms that underpin digital experiences.

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    Brand Experience

    What makes a digital brand experience

    Digital brand experience is about what users think, feel and do when they interact with a brand online.

    It drives outcomes (e.g. engagement, completed transactions) as well as reputation and satisfaction. Digital brand experience design considers look and feel, voice, interaction and journeys.

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    Diversity of Experiences

    How eCommerce does digital brand experience

    Digital brand experiences shape the relationships that brands have with their consumers and drive loyalty, satisfaction and reputation. Businesses with the same digital offer can have very different digital brand experiences. For example, online clothing retailers all offer standard transactions (choose clothes, buy clothes, organise delivery). But the digital experience of a luxury, designer brand is very different from a mass-market, fast-fashion retailer.

    Public sector learning:

    Users expect different types of relationships with their public services. Even if transactions are standard (booking an appointment, paying a bill), the context matters. Digital experiences should consider how they make people feel, not just what they functionally do.

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    Government as a Platform

    Digital brand experiences and Government as a Platform

    'Government as a platform’ has become a popular concept. fits this model, with layers for basic infrastructure and functionality, brand experience and personalisation.

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    How Personalisation Works in Practice

    How personalisation works in practice depends on what is being personalized and for what purpose.

    The eCommerce industry has developed sophisticated tools and technology to power personalisation, some of which could be adapted to public sector contexts with relative ease. This diagram presents the standard phases of any personalisation process.

    Governments can collect a spectrum of different types of data. Each requires different levels of user consent, and this varies across countries. Governments should only use data with the consent and trust of their users. We can make useful inferences from even limited datasets. The more we can infer about who the user is, what they are doing, where they are doing it and what they want, the better service we can provide.

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