https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2011/10/27/the-vision-for-government-corporate-websites-in-the-single-domain-with-product-wireframes/

The vision for government corporate websites in the Single Domain (with product wireframes)

This is the third in a series of posts sharing progress on how we are tackling objective two of the single domain ‘beta’ project: specifically the creation and test of a unified publishing platform capable of replacing many of the websites which government organisations currently run across separate domains – like dh.gov.uk or bis.gov.uk – to provide information on who they are and what they do.

Having first defined the concept for this shared platform, then analysed users’ needs, the next step in early September was to establish and communicate the product vision.

Here is an extract of that vision work – a set of ‘wireframe’ drawings of what, back then, I thought this product might need to end up looking like to the user.

If you’re used to looking at wireframes, skip this paragraph. For everyone else, I should make clear that these drawings are by no means intended to give an impression of visual design. Website wireframes are outline sketches which aim to show the functional framework of a digital interface, and not the look and feel. The purpose in creating them was to get the ideas out of my head and into a shareable form in the most efficient way possible, to get the delivery team up and running quickly with a common understanding of the shape of the product, and to get buy-in and feedback from the product’s users and stakeholders at the earliest possible stage.

It’s also worth being clear that this was a jumping off point, and we jumped off a while since. Three sprints later, we’re some way into the development of working code, and things already look a little different. The vision is now a live and daily-evolving thing, not a static set of slides; and quite rightly there’s some stuff in this slide deck we know we will do differently, some things we might not do at all, and a good few things which we are already doing which weren’t in this original vision.

All that aside, these drawings remain the most useful thing to share at this point to give you a sense of where we are heading. The product we release in beta, which will run in parallel alongside departments’ existing sites in early 2012, will be recognisably 80% of the way towards delivering this vision – and, where it deviates, we should have interesting stories to tell about how our thinking and priorities evolved along the way.

More importantly, I want to put these out there to get your feedback now. I’ve workshopped them a bit with various domain experts inside and outside government, but the more feedback – from end users in particular – the better. Bring it on!


Neil Williams is product owner for the corporate departmental publishing platform in the single domain project, on loan to the Government Digital Service from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. 

10 comments

  1. Scott Andrews

    Speaking as the guy largely responsible for the current DCMS website – having looked at your wireframes I won’t mourn my baby one bit once it gets replaced. Sterling work and it looks to be going in very much the right direction :-)

    Reply
  2. Matt Navarra (@MattNavarraUK)

    Neil

    As always, i am here ready/willing and keen to be invovled as this sort of stuff is of great interest to me. Not sure what help you need right now. Let me know?

    Matt

    PS – site is looking slick!

    Reply
  3. Neil Williams

    Much appreciated, both.

    Reply
  4. John Fox (@x333xxx)

    As a concept I believe these wireframes are just about on the money, following a theme and structure that I had already envisaged myself.

    I wonder whether other tiers of government (unitary/county/district plus parish and town councils) will be encouraged to adopt a “GovUK” site ‘wrap’ so that all tiers are visibly of the same Government “family”?

    Whilst it would be inappropriate to mandate a site design at local and parish government level (for one thing doing so would meet very stiff opposition from localgovweb parties), a consistent approach to central government content would enhance user experience and usage of the single domain, whilst helping the citizen to understand the differences and responsibilities of the different tiers.

    Different treatments on local council websites currently offer a mixed bag of means of access from local to central government, all dependent on the visibility (profile) accorded by a site’s manager. This could be remedied at a stroke by mandating a ‘single domain wrap’ with permanent navigation links embedded, perhaps with variants permitted for the devolved administration.

    (Note: The views expressed here are my personal observations)

    Reply
  5. Doris Gray

    I would have thought bis.co.uk is fit for purpose – what’s to be gained from giving it a generic look and feel in common with the other departmental websites?

    On the other hand, BIS need to be punished for making us converge our websites on to Directgov.

    Reply
  6. SiHerd

    Great to see. It feels like you’ve not overlooked the detail in putting this together (eg Related (primary and secondary) links in the content area are really useful for those directly entering the site from search. Did you think at all about making the site search field more prominent?

    Reply
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