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Introducing the next iteration of GOV.UK

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: GOV.UK
As Tom explained back in January, the GOV.UK beta is a work in progress. We've been hard at work behind the scenes since then, and today we're releasing a new batch of content, as well as the next iteration of GOV.UK's design. I’m here to explain a bit more about what’s new, and to ask for your feedback, so we can keep making GOV.UK even better.

A simpler, clearer design for GOV.UK

Ben Terrett and the design and front end team have been focussing on making GOV.UK even clearer and simpler to use. We've reduced the amount of type styles and are now only using one typeface. We've made lots of small but important changes to our content pages - making them more consistent and removing distractions.  Ben will be explaining more about all of this later in the week.

We’ve also released the next versions of the home page, search results pages, and section pages. The new home page explains what GOV.UK is about right now, and highlights new, popular or topical content and tools. The new search results and section pages are informed by user testing to ensure that users can get to the information they are looking for more quickly and easily. We’ll be doing a lot more testing with real users over the next few months, and making lots more changes based on what we learn.

New content and tools

We’re also starting to add content and tools to GOV.UK to meet the needs of UK businesses of all shapes and sizes, including the millions of self employed people around the country.  This includes common tasks to do with starting up, or employing people for the first time, as well as information on business rates and protecting intellectual property.

We’re using the same approach as for other content in the beta - identifying needs, and then working out the best way to meet them by writing content or building simple to use tools. Sometimes this means creating a text-based guide to explain the key steps and things to be aware of, like setting up a limited company, or explaining and linking to existing government services like registering a trademark. We’ve also created a tool to help you work out whether someone has the right to work in the UK.

Another new addition is the Licence Finder tool which lets businesses and citizens find out which licenses they need - whether they’re starting a new business, branching out in a new area, or planning an event like a street party. Several people in the team have contributed to making this a clear and fast user experience, so we’ll share more detail on this in another blog post tomorrow.

We’ll be adding a lot more content and tools over the coming months, but for now you can find all of today’s new releases in the business section of GOV.UK.

Tell us what you think

We really want to hear what you think about the new content and tools we’ve released today, and the updates we’ve made to the user experience. You can leave comments here on the blog, or send us your feedback. From now on we plan to release something new to GOV.UK every week or two, so please check back regularly on GOV.UK and here on the GDS blog.

Author: Sarah Prag, Product Manager, GOV.UK Mainstream

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  1. Comment by David Smith posted on

    The new design is much more refined. However the font is poorly rendered on IE8 - to the extent where it is hard to read.

    My advice for a font, is Fontsmiths Me (know as FS Me). Designed for Mencap, with a Webfont available.

  2. Comment by eastmad posted on

    The question marks are a bit yuck. And topologically worrying, what with the spot the other colour.

    Lovely otherwise.

  3. Comment by launches latest beta focusing on SMBs | | posted on

    [...] “We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes since then, and today we’re releasing a new batch of content, as well as the next iteration of’s design,” wrote Sarah Prag, product manager of mainstream, on the GDS blog. [...]

  4. Comment by David Baker posted on

    Identical question marks for motorists and students? I don't see this design serving your users at all, I'm afraid. Try using motorists as a starting point and you'll start actually communicating something. How about a car as a contextual cue?

    This project is doomed.

  5. Comment by Archie Macintosh posted on

    Looks beautiful in Firefox - lovely font and layout: spcaious, clean and legible. Very pleasing - congratulations to the design team.

    Does not render properly in Chrome: navigation bar is spread vertically downwards as set of bullet points, with the GDS Projects items expanded and visible; and the text is on various coloured panels. (??? My Chrome install is pretty much vanilla, so can't understand the poor rendering.)

  6. Comment by sam posted on

    Great, WordPress. Came from a link on theregister, and I'm just thrilled to see you using WordPress on this site. I was worried the number10 site was just a flash in the pan. It inspires me that at least some people behind this process have actually got a good idea about open source and moving away from disastrous centralised IT projects. I am going to be pushing WordPress hard into the NHS, where it is long overdue in the present bureaucratic mess! As a GP I need to use these sorts of tools to improve the work of commissioning groups and even GP practice websites. Great work guys, hope the delivers the goods...

  7. Comment by JustJen_wd posted on


    The font's causing the most issue for me. I'm running FF 13.0.1 on a PC, and the font is losing itself when at a smaller size. For example, the top bar to me reads 'sellings, lelp...take lhe lour' and is reallly pixelated. This appears in a lot of places.

    I know Cufon renders out more cleanly, but if font-face is the way you need to go due to filesize and constrains etc, then perhaps it may be worth using a different font which renders out better?

    Jen 🙂

  8. Comment by Tim Blackwell posted on

    Searches with apostrophes are echoed as entities, ugh! e.g. guardian's allowance.

    The icons are quite opaque - I had to look at the source to understand what they represent. Part of the problem is that they represent categorically different things - a benefit or scheme is not the same kind of thing as a quick answer.

    Odd that searching for guardian's allowance brings up guardian's allowance as the 13th result.

    I really like the sidebar showing results by subject area.

    • Replies to Tim Blackwell>

      Comment by aidanmuller posted on

      Thanks for your feedback Tim, I've passed this on to the team. is a beta so we'll be updating and changing it in response to feedback from users.

      • Replies to aidanmuller>

        Comment by Tim Blackwell posted on

        Thanks. Looking again, it's clear that the search is broken for apostrophised terms - searching for guardians allowance without an apostrophe brings up the correct page as the first result (it does have the apostrophe in the target page). Similarly with searching for carer's allowance/carers allowance. It looks like the apostrophe is actually being converted into its entity representation before the search takes place, so a search for carer's allowance is turned into a search for carer&amp#x27;s allowance.

  9. Comment by Introducing a new tool – Licence Finder | Government Digital Service posted on

    [...] on 04/07/2012 Hello, I’m James Weiner, and I’m a front-end developer at GDS. Last night we released the latest update to GOV.UK, and among the new tools and services we’ve released is the Licence Finder. I wanted to explain a [...]

  10. Comment by Andy Paddock posted on

    The selected font is not very crisp in Firefox but other than that I like it.

    Are you not a bit concerned it may be "too cool for school"

    • Replies to Andy Paddock>

      Comment by aidanmuller posted on

      Thanks Andy, the crispness on Firefox has been mentioned a couple of times. As for it being too cool for school, very kind of you to say! But our primary intention is to find a typeface that is as accessible as possible.

      The typeface is called New Transport and we're trialling it at the moment. It was designed by Margaret Calvert and Henrik Kubel, and is a slightly modified version of Transport - designed by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert, in the Late Fifties/ Early Sixties for Britain's national motorway and road sign system!

      • Replies to aidanmuller>

        Comment by Andy Paddock posted on

        I wasn't actually referring to just the type face but the whole site, I'm looking at turning the Army extranet into a browser style home page (your most visited pages displayed as the home page) with a large search box and little if any navigation.
        I don't think a lot of my business stakeholders will accept the fact that they no longer have their presence (a big button) on the home page.

  11. Comment by Stephen Dale posted on

    I can only commend you for delivering what I think is the only Gov website that thinks first about it's users and not about it's own government machinery. The clean interface is a joy to behold. Search is fast and results are relevant. Information is presented in a succinct and clear way - the key facts without the usual gov-speak. If only all gov websites were designed like this. Keep up the good work!

    • Replies to Stephen Dale>

      Comment by emercoleman (@emercoleman) posted on

      Thanks for that Stephen its great to get feedback

  12. Comment by Tony Gilbert posted on

    I'm seeing a problem with the home page in Firefox 13.0.1 - there's a long list of links sitting above the search box, which I think should not be there.

    Also curious about where you see the four boxes below search going in the future, given that you will have such a broad range of topics and distinct audiences to serve. Won't it become a bit unweildy for users? I did not realise it was a slider at first.

    • Replies to Tony Gilbert>

      Comment by aidanmuller posted on

      Thanks for the feedback Tony, well spotted. We're working on it as we speak.

      Regarding the four boxes, the carousel is a solution for here and now. As the content evolves, so will the homepage. I've passed on your feedback about not noticing it was a slider though.

  13. Comment by Josh T. posted on

    As usual, these are brilliant changes.

    But one thing I don't understand is why the responsive design for different viewport widths was removed? Is this going to be added later?

    • Replies to Josh T.>

      Comment by Dafydd Vaughan posted on

      Hi Josh,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      We've made changes to the design of GOV.UK and we now want to see how people use the site with different screen sizes before we build a way of serving the content to those. We'll be gathering data and doing user testing to inform our work in this area.

      We've talked a bit more about our approach to this in our Design Principles (

      Hope this answers your query!

      • Replies to Dafydd Vaughan>

        Comment by Josh T. posted on

        It does. Thanks. I was worried you were going down the old route of having a separate Web site for smaller screens. I can't wait to see your latest update on this.