Introducing the California crisis standard

Screenshot of California crisis standard

Screenshot of California crisis standard

In a crisis, when things are moving fast, it’s essential that everyone in a team has a shared understanding of what really matters for users.

Yesterday, California’s coronavirus response team published their Crisis Standard. They are using this short list of points to maintain the quality of the state’s official response website,

In our experience supporting government coronavirus websites around the world, the understandable urgency of the government’s response can result in pressure to add updates or features that might not meet the needs of its users.

So we’ve worked with the team to create California’s Crisis Standard. It defines what good looks like. It makes very clear what should – and shouldn’t – go on their response website.

It’s from the same product team who built the site in just 4 days, and are continuing to iterate it at the speed of crisis – a pace quite different from the typical speed of government.

As any organisations’ coronavirus response develops, more voices will have a view about how and what they should present to people. It is imperative that their front door to the world continues to give users simple, clear and actionable advice. It also needs to be accessible and adapt quickly to changing needs and directives from leaders. When it comes to maintaining that clarity, more is actually often less. California’s standard exists to ensure the team’s emphasis on need, accuracy and simplicity is protected.

Making things open makes things better. This work was inspired by the fantastic effort led by Lou Downe and 200 contributors to create a set of principles for designing services in a crisis.

We salute the Californian team for also working in the open when it matters most. Tom has written about the benefits of working in the open and we’ve been impressed by this small but brilliant group since they started last Autumn. But their commitment to sharing what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, when they are under great pressure, is truly admirable.

This post is part of a series on Coronavirus

Hearing from teams at the sharp end of governments’ coronavirus response by Tom Loosemore

Government data: We’re all in beta now by Mike Bracken published on Sifted

The end of business as usual by Ben Terrett

What excellent digital government teams are doing right now by Andrew Greenway

Making things open is making things better by Tom Loosemore

Coronavirus: how Public Digital can help.

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