The methods 18F uses to practice human-centered design.
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The 18F Method Cards (“18F Methods”) describe how 18F puts human-centered design into practice. While this is primarily maintained as an internal resource, we hope it can help everyone adopt the methods of human-centered design.

Why methods?

In order to function well within cross-functional teams, designers need to know a few things: which methods they might choose from, why one particular method makes more sense than another at any given moment, and, once they’ve picked a method, how to actually execute it. 18F Methods collects this essential information as a series of cards. In practice, we’ve found the Methods can provide folks with a gateway into our work and build internal alignment around a shared vocabulary.

Specific to 18F, specific to the federal government

It’s important to note that the 18F Methods are designed to account for two things that may not otherwise concern a more generic collection of design methods. First, these methods directly reflect and support 18F’s human-centered work. (They are also continuously updated in a human-centered way — how meta!). Second, 18F Methods are designed to keep federal employees on the happy side of the law. This collection specifically includes helpful information on topics for which designers working in the federal government may need clarification, such as privacy and the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Getting started

Reading the Methods online

You’re presently looking at the Methods’ GitHub (code) repository. Please visit our homepage to read the Methods online.

Printing the Methods

To print a copy of the Methods for offline use, simply visit the Methods homepage and select file → print… from your web browser.

Running the Methods website on your local machine

You will need Ruby ( > version 2.1.5 ). You may consider using a Ruby version manager such as rbenv or rvm to help ensure that Ruby version upgrades don’t mean all your gems will need to be rebuilt.

On OS X, you can use Homebrew to install Ruby in /usr/local/bin, which may require you to update your $PATH environment variable:

$ brew update
$ brew install ruby

To serve 18F Methods locally, using methods as the name of your new repository: Run each of the following steps to get the site up and running.

git clone
cd methods
bundle install
jekyll serve

You should be able to see the site at: http://localhost:4000/

Contributing to the Methods

For more information on contributing to the Methods (or even making a suggestion), see

Current team

  • Product owner: Eric Ronne
  • Designer (researcher): Andrew Maier
  • Designer (front-end developer): Scott Weber

Past contributors

  • Melissa Braxton
  • Jeremy Canfield
  • Erica Deahl
  • Carolyn Dew
  • Andre Francisco
  • James Hupp
  • Nicky Krause
  • Colin MacArthur
  • Brad Nunnally
  • Jennifer Thibault
  • Russ Unger
  • Victor Zapanta

Public domain

This project is in the worldwide public domain. As stated in CONTRIBUTING:

This project is in the public domain within the United States, and copyright and related rights in the work worldwide are waived through the CC0 1.0 Universal public domain dedication.

All contributions to this project will be released under the CC0 dedication. By submitting a pull request, you are agreeing to comply with this waiver of copyright interest.