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Why GOV.UK matters: A platform for a digital Government

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: GOV.UK

On Wednesday October 17th 2012, our new digital service moved out of public beta development to replace the two main government websites, Directgov and Business Link. It is the first major, full platform release from the Government Digital Service. This release heralds a new approach to digital delivery of public services in the UK. It is the start of a new approach to all things digital in central government. 

User Needs: Simpler, Clearer, Faster

GOV.UK puts user needs above all. In September last year, while announcing the Needotron, our tool for identifying and filtering the real needs of users, my colleague Richard Pope wrote  “Every superfluous page we create is one more dead end for an angry, frustrated, confused user”. This relentless focus on user needs has seen us reduce and focus our content on what is really needed. The excess is placed on record with the National Archive.

GOV.UK has led us to repurpose much of the government’s digital estate. We’ve created 28,500 mappings between Directgov/Business Link and GOV.UK. This means that when users go to an existing page, they will get a seamless user journey to updated content or an archive of the page.  Early results show GOV.UK is simpler for users, with the average task success at 61% compared with 46% on Business Link. It’s faster - the average time to complete a task is a minute quicker on GOV.UK than Business Link. And it’s clearer - we’ve eliminated jargon where ever we can.

Government Needs: The power of platforms

In his seminal work ‘Government as a Platform’ Tim O’Reilly wrote: “If you look at the history of the computer industry, the innovations that define each era are frameworks that enabled a whole ecosystem of participation from companies large and small... This is the right way to frame the question of Government 2.0. How does government become an open platform that allows people inside and outside government to innovate?”

GOV.UK has been designed with transparency, participation and simplicity at its core. It will always be based on open standards, and is unapologetically open source. This architecture ensures its integration into the growing ecosystem of the Internet. Inevitably, innovation will follow, driven from within and without. GOV.UK is not Government on the Internet, but of the Internet.

The start of a new era of digital services

From here on, the future is driven by user needs. We will migrate major departments onto the platform in the following months, with hundreds of agencies to follow over the next 18 months. More platform services will follow: Metrics, Identity and more APIs are already in development. And our upcoming Government Digital Strategy will address the urgent need to redesign our mainstream transactions.

So that’s why GOV.UK is important. It’s simpler, clearer and faster for users and has changed how government works internally. We owe huge thanks to the Minister for Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, and to Martha Lane Fox, our digital champion, who between them have enabled GDS to exist.

At the heart of GOV.UK is a willingness to listen, to react and improve our services, and a desire to collaborate with our users who, after all, fund our services. In short, we will react like public servants, by placing user need at the heart of conversation. That’s why GOV.UK matters.

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  1. Comment by Tonie Sandy posted on

    Of course GOV digital solutions always matters, because internet is today new way of communications and also goverment should make people acess to some informations easier. Wish you all the best 🙂

  2. Comment by financial loss posted on

    Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Ie.

    I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to let you know.

    The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon.
    Many thanks

    • Replies to financial loss>

      Comment by nettienwilliams posted on

      Hell there. Thank you for letting us know. What browser were you using when you noticed this text issue?

  3. Comment by posted on

    Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in
    your article seem to be running off the screen in Firefox.
    I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to let you
    know. The design look great though! Hope you get the problem
    resolved soon. Cheers

    • Replies to>

      Comment by nettienwilliams posted on

      Thanks for that - we'll take a look at it.

  4. Comment by The End of the Beginning | Government Digital Service posted on

    [...] the heart of Government, then show we could run a cross Government platform. GOV.UK, and the way it was created (agile, with policy and technology specialists working together) created the trust in departments [...]

  5. Comment by Being Blonde » Blog Archive » Blonde Highlights posted on

    [...] The new and improved is now an extremely user friendly site. It’s great to see a really good project come to fruition. And here’s an introductory article. [...]

  6. Comment by SI’s price for hosting was 80 times higher SME’s | Campaign4Change posted on

    [...] says all the right things  - as did Chris Chant last year. Bill Crothers, Liam Maxwell and Mike Bracken are among the excellent adjutants to Maude. But if this strong team – which is backed by the [...]

  7. Comment by That GOV.UK thing | a work on process posted on

    [...] off two very large websites and replaced them with one simpler, clearer, faster alternative is a big deal. The fact that this site is now the canonical source for a whole host of information is a serious [...]

  8. Comment by, la nueva apuesta del Reino Unido! posted on

    [...] El portal tiene  una lógica minimalista con entradas temáticas, como lo destaca el post de Mike Bracken en el sitio Government Digital Service con un título muy sugerente  Why matters: A Platform for a Digital Government. [...]

  9. Comment by How is GOV.UK performing? | Government Digital Service posted on

    [...] my colleague Mike Bracken explained at the time, GOV.UK is focussed on the needs of users, making it simpler, clearer and faster to find government [...]

  10. Comment by The mountain beyond GOV.UK « posted on

    [...] Mike Bracken says in his launch [...]

  11. Comment by Bart posted on

    I'm extremely pleased to find this web site. I wanted to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to see new information in your site.

  12. Comment by John J posted on

    "Every superfluous page we create is one more dead end for an angry, frustrated, confused user”.

    Not if you get your navigation right, it's not, because they'll never even get to the pages that don't meet their needs. That's like saying that every additional book listed on Amazon makes it harder to buy what you want. But Amazon don't have a problem listing "Hanging in Judgement: Religion and the Death Penalty in England from the Bloody Code to Abolition" by Harry Potter to their database, safe in the knowledge that it won't get in the way of anyone trying to find the child wizard.

    If a page on Business Link or DirectGov was useful to someone - even if not to everyone - then why would you deliberately have chosen not to include it? If you don't have the expertise to get your navigation sorted, then that's the problem, not the number of pages.

  13. Comment by care2.Com posted on

    Would you be kind enough to send me your RSS feed link please?

  14. Comment by online kredite günstig posted on

    That is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very accurate information… Thanks for sharing this one.

    A must read post!

  15. Comment by Morgan posted on

    I'll immediately seize your rss as I can't in finding your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service.
    Do you've any? Please let me recognise so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

    • Replies to Morgan>

      Comment by James Taylor posted on

      We don't publish newsletters but the rss feed will alert you to any new posts.

  16. Comment by Lisa Price (@lisapr1ce) posted on

    Congratulations on achieving this herculean feat. Are you able to share what the budget has been for this project from start to launch? I ask because many will, rightly, hold this up as an example of how to approach a user-based, ground-up rebuild of a public service site and I think it would be interested to get an idea of the investment required.

  17. Comment by David Lakins posted on

    Having worked on the local service delivery Business Link sites a few years back it seems a shame to lose the BL branding. However, the simple layout and responsive design of the new site looks great. Look forward to seeing the site go from strength to strength.

  18. Comment by Martha Lane Fox: Launching Gov.UK | Apple Stuff posted on

    [...] Click here for Mike Bracken's blog on - Why GOV.UK matters: A platform for a digital Government. [...]

  19. Comment by Government Access | GUISE. posted on

    [...] maybe wondering why any of this matters, but as the executive director of GDS Mike Bracken explains the overhaul is a much needed and long-overdue step forward: ”From here on, the future is [...]

  20. Comment by New GOV.UK website goes live (replacing Business Link) | Plan Digital UK posted on

    [...] links: Government Digital Service: Meeting the needs of businesses Why GOV.UK matters: A platform for a digital Government Rate this:Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  21. Comment by Eliot posted on

    Love it. Is it really open source though? Seems the content is open, but the code is not?

  22. Comment by Simon Phipps posted on

    Many congratulations on the move, Mike, very impressive - world-leading, in fact.

    I believe this sort of leadership is crucial to the future technology market in Britain. I assume a great deal of the work has been done in association with service providers and systems integrators (SIs). Can you comment at all on how this focus on open source and open standards is changing your relationships with SIs? Are the SIs involved consequently changing their business practices elsewhere?

  23. Comment by Tim Burley (@timburley) posted on

    I'm interested in how this might affect the way that local services are accessed online.

    If a local authority is considering how it provides online access to services, will you be encouraging them to embrace the new direction? Or are you concerned about the proliferation of many 'miniGOVS'?

    It seems a consistent design language (like the one that has evolved in ecommerce) would be a good thing?

  24. Comment by So is now live… « Carl's Notepad posted on

    [...] Mike Bracken explains in a post why GOV.UK matters, it’s focusing on user needs, its faster, clearer and is now a platform – all this stuff is really important. But the most important thing that Mike does say is this: Our upcoming Government Digital Strategy will address the urgent need to redesign our mainstream transactions. [...]

  25. Comment by Digital by Default, Open by Design? « Patient and Public Involvement now! posted on

    [...] Digital by Default, Open by Design? [...]

  26. Comment by Gerrit Berkouwer posted on

    Compliments to the whole team, great achievement! Have a great day! 🙂

    • Replies to Gerrit Berkouwer>

      Comment by Tim posted on

      Congratulations! Thank for your leadership. Protecting the most sensitive data in the cloud is the rule rather than the exception today. Well done. @timchristin