Design Lead

Contract London Closes: 2023-10-25

This is a full-time role but we offer a range of flexible working arrangements and encourage our people to take advantage of them.

Blackfriars, London – Hybrid Working

We are recruiting for a Design Lead within our A Fairer Start mission

About Nesta
We are Nesta, the UK’s innovation agency for social good. We design, test and scale solutions to society’s biggest problems. Our three missions are to give every child a fair start, help people live healthy lives, and create a sustainable future where the economy works for both people and the planet.

For over 20 years, we have worked to support, encourage and inspire innovation. We work in three roles: as an innovation partner working with frontline organisations to design and test new solutions, as a venture builder supporting new and early stage businesses, and as a system shaper creating the conditions for innovation.

Harnessing the rigour of science and the creativity of design, we work relentlessly to change millions of lives for the better. Find out more at

About A Fairer Start
Our mission, ‘A Fairer Start’, aims to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers in the UK at age 5. We use our innovation methods, including design thinking, behavioural science, data science, evidence and experimentation, arts and more to achieve our goals.

How will a Design Lead contribute to Nesta’s success?
As a Design Lead you will support and lead multidisciplinary teams to design or adapt, iteratively-test and scale impactful solutions that meet the needs of end users and stakeholders. Alongside this you will support others to grow their confidence in using design methods and approaches to enhance their work.

The role
We are looking for an experienced designer who is confident in a multitude of design methods and disciplines, ideally with some experience relating to the early years, education or tackling social inequality more broadly.

In this role, you will be part of a team of around twenty people who work full-time on the Fairer Start mission, including researchers, behavioural scientists, data scientists and policy specialists. You will work in multi-disciplinary teams to develop and deliver projects, sometimes leading project teams and sometimes contributing as a team member. You will work closely with senior leaders and other colleagues from a range of professional backgrounds within Nesta, as well as stakeholders and collaborators who are external to Nesta. You’ll also interact with other methods experts from across Nesta, the Behavioural Insights Team, and partner organisations, who work on mission projects on a more ad-hoc basis. You will work closely with one other designer in the Fairer Start mission and be part of the community of designers across Nesta’s wider Design and Technology practice.

As a Design Lead you will be expected to:

  • Work collaboratively with colleagues and external partners to plan and deliver, and sometimes lead, multidisciplinary projects using your knowledge of design methods and approaches.
  • Consult on how design methods can best be applied to achieve project objectives.
  • Oversee, plan, undertake and support user research to inform strategic decisions and the design or adaptation of potential solutions.
  • Oversee and undertake work to identify key users/stakeholders and their needs for the teams you work in, ensuring their needs and context are widely understood and considered.
  • Design, develop and iteratively-test potential solutions with end users, as well as encouraging and supporting others to do so.
  • Facilitate workshops and group discussions to build insight, build buy-in or design solutions.
  • Facilitate workshops and design sprints to rapidly design, test and iterate prototypes. Including co-design or multidisciplinary working with partners and colleagues.
  • Oversee and produce design iterations from low fidelity sketches to functional prototypes, advising on and making key decisions where needed.
  • Support or be responsible for the end-to-end design of interventions often involving multiple channels, touchpoints and partners.
  • Ensure Nesta and our partners balance the needs of end users with strategic, business and social objectives.
  • Work with multidisciplinary teams – often including partners and stakeholders in the community (e.g. parents, frontline staff, etc) – to design, iteratively-test and help scale impactful solutions.
  • Be confident in supporting others within the mission and across Nesta to use design approaches.
  • Engage effectively with stakeholders and get people excited about our work.
  • Communicate and help to build shared understanding around challenges and potential solutions, often through visualisation or making things tangible.
  • Communicate the value and how to make use of design approaches in simple and clear language that avoids jargon.
  • Contribute to the identification, development and pitching of new work.
  • Contribute to improving Nesta’s approach to design.
  • Support the overall delivery of projects within A Fairer Start mission. Advising on work that involves design within the mission as needed.
  • Line manage a fellow Designer.

The person

Minimum experience

  • Experience in more than one design discipline, such as service design, user experience design, product design, etc, including using design thinking and lean/agile approaches.
  • Experience leading multiple projects to design interventions that have met the needs of end users and stakeholders. Ideally with responsibility for the end-to-end journey of a service across multiple channels and touchpoints.
  • Experience of leading and managing a range of activities from client engagement to user research, prototyping and testing.
  • Experience of guiding non-designers through a design process.
  • User research: Ability to conduct and plan for interviews, observations, ethnographic/immersive research and other research methods, including recruiting and user testing with diverse users and stakeholders in the field. While you are not expected to be a quantitative researcher within the team, you are expected to be comfortable using quantitative data to inform and enhance user research. You can champion user research to focus on all users and stakeholders affected and demonstrate its strategic value.
  • Evidence and context-based design: You are able to work with others to use evidence (qualitative and quantitative) to inform the design of projects, products, and services. You can absorb, analyse and synthesise large amounts of conflicting information and use it to pull out key insights and produce simple, effective and creative solutions.
  • Prototyping: You are an expert in using a variety of methods of prototyping and user testing; and know how to choose the most appropriate ones. You know how to share best practice and can coach others.
  • Communication skills: You can listen to the needs of users, stakeholders and partners, and interpret them in a way that is clear for both audiences. You know how to manage stakeholder expectations. You can be flexible and you are capable of proactive and reactive communication. You know how to facilitate difficult discussions within the team or with diverse stakeholders.
  • Facilitating decisions and risks: You know how to build alignment between collaborators and stakeholders. You can lead others to make good design decisions. You know how to identify key risks with a design and strategies mitigate them as well as support others to do so.
  • Community collaboration. You know how to work collaboratively within a group, actively networking with others and varying feedback for the appropriate time to ensure the discussion sticks. You can use your initiative to identify problems or issues in the team dynamic and rectify them.
  • Line management experience.

Desirable experience

  • Experience of creating functional prototypes using code or other technologies.
  • Experience of developing metrics or feedback loops to ensure we learn and improve effectively.
  • Experience of designing interventions with a social purpose.
  • Experience of designing interventions relevant to our A Fairer Start mission around the early years and tackling social disadvantage
  • Experience working within and/or knowledge of the early years, education or tackling social inequality

What we offer
Salary: circa £53,000 plus array of benefits, including health cash plans, dental insurance, the ability to buy and sell annual leave, eyecare vouchers and more

Location: This role is based in Blackfriars, London, hybrid working arrangement with a minimum of 2 days per week in the office.

Term: Permanent

Hours: This is a full-time role but we offer a range of flexible working arrangements and encourage our people to take advantage of them. Many do.

Reports to: Director of Design (and a matrix manager in the Fairer Start mission)

Making an application
To apply for this role, please submit your application before 8:00am on the 25th October 2023.

Round 1 interviews are expected to take place on w/o 6th November 2023, and Round 2 interviews (with a portfolio presentation) on w/o 20th November 2023.

At Nesta, we believe that a diverse workforce leads to an organisation that is more innovative, more creative and gets better results.

We want our workforce to represent the diversity of the people and communities we serve. We also want our workplace to be one where different experiences, expertise and perspectives are valued, and where everyone is encouraged to grow and develop.

This means that when we are recruiting, we actively seek to reach a diverse pool of candidates. It also means that we are happy to consider any reasonable adjustments that potential employees may need to in order to be successful.

We recognise the importance of a good balance between work and home life, so we do everything we can to accommodate flexible working, including working from home, compressed or part-time hours, job shares and other arrangements.

Please just let us know in your application or at any stage throughout the process (and beyond) if these are options you’d like to explore.


Tagged as: Flexible hours