Digital lifecycle

BETA. This draft guidance is provided as a ready-reference for business owners and project teams in government agencies planning online delivery. It draws on the approach of the UK government's Digital by Default Service Standard, released under the Open Government Licence v2.0. We invite feedback from agencies.
  • Build services around the needs of users.
  • Think about the lifecycle of digital delivery.


A phase in which you start researching the needs of your service’s users, describe a possible future state for them, and think about what you could measure to determine success — before you start.

More about the discovery phase


This short phase is where you prototype a range of different solutions that may meet your users’ needs. You’ll be doing research with a small group of users, and getting early feedback about the design of the service. In this phase you might start on paper but aim to develop a basic working service, and invite a small number of real users to try it out and gather their feedback.

More about the alpha phase


You’re developing to the demands of a live environment, understanding how to build and scale while meeting user needs. You’ll be iteratively releasing working versions of the service to the public — and thinking ahead to the requirements of a live environment. You'll do more user research and your beta should change and evolve as you learn ever more about user needs.

More about the beta phase


The work doesn’t stop once your service is live. You’ll be continually improving your service, reacting to new needs and demands, and meeting targets set during development. Different forms of user research and feedback will be available to you now. You'll need processes and systems in place to monitor key metrics like user satisfaction or completion rates to understand how your service is working for your users.

More about the live phase


At some point the service may come to the end of its useful life. This could mean retiring and archiving it, migrating its function somewhere else or replacing it, but it needs to be thoughtfully managed and carefully executed. As well as requirements for digital preservation, you'll need a plan to deal with disposing of infrastructure you no longer need. How will you accommodate existing users? Is a new service replacing the old one? What knowledge can you pass on about user needs the old service wasn't meeting?

More about the decommission phase