A few years ago I was the discussing service redesign with a senior member of staff where I work.
Some of the services he managed were changing from delivery by a member of staff to self-service and online. There were other changes in the pipeline too and they joked, "there’ll be none of my service left soon" as if he saw the services he managed as being defined by the people who delivered them.
This isn’t the case of course, and whilst we should never downplay the role of dedicated staff who deliver a service, the service is the product of what is delivered, not who or what is delivering it.
Why am I telling something you probably already know?
Over the past couple of couple of years I’ve notices some with a "digital mindset" have the same approach as my colleague, albeit about a different medium. I’ve seen some awful online services offered by central government and councils alike, and it’s great we’re starting embed a design culture in the public sector, but just as the creation GOV.UK was a big step forward, it’s still just a website, not the service itself.
Yes, we still need to fix all the forms but I suspect within five years time more people will be talking to the internet than looking it for many functions your organisation offers, so adopting a front-end design system that solely focuses on how to present things visually isn’t going to help you with than.
So when you’re re-designing your service adopt a "many channel, one service" approach. Think, how will this form start the process that delivers the service, but also think how will a voice interaction and an artificial intelligence start that process too to create a consistent approach across all your delivery channels.
As visual design systems become increasingly redundant over the medium term, remember, people are not your service, but neither are your forms.