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GOV.UK - One day in

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

GOV.UK is now into its second day as the new place to find government services and information, and I’d like to share some highlights from our first 24 hours.

In our first day (Wednesday 17th Oct) we had 1,129,578 visits from 909,706 unique users. This is about the same as the traffic that Directgov and Business Link had on Monday, and a slight increase on Tuesday, which suggests all the hard work done to ensure users were redirected from the old sites to the new has paid off.

A snapshot of a Gov.UK analytics dashboard

Not every redirect was perfect though, so one of the things we’ve been focusing on is fixing or improving any mappings that were sending people to the wrong place. In a few cases we’ll also update the mappings when new or amended content is published, but everything should now be pointing to something useful.

As expected, the majority of our visitors came via search engines and we’re pleased that GOV.UK is already the top search term for tax disc in Google as it’s one of the most common reasons that people come to the site. Unsurprisingly the high volume search terms were all very similar to the things people looked for on Directgov and Businesslink - mainly relating to jobs and the minimum wage, student finance, car tax and the DVLA.

Reassuringly, the people looking for these things seem to be finding them, as the most visited content on day one included the Jobcentre plus start page, car tax start page, benefits adviser, Jobseeker’s Allowance, national minimum wage rates, and other things relating to driving and job seeking. I was also pleased to see the When do the clocks change? page in the top 20, having decided to promote it on the home page as a helpful seasonal tip!

With the help of the Data Insight team we’ll be looking at this data, and more, every day to make sure we’re focusing on improving the most used content and tools, and also to spot any anomalies or journeys that might not be working for users. James Thornett will be blogging about our data and sharing more about this next week.

However, in these first few days what we’re really focused on is listening to feedback from users, and from our colleagues in departments. Our front line support team processed hundreds of contacts yesterday that have helped us find and fix various broken links and bugs in different browsers. We’ve also fixed a problem with postcode lookup in some areas and sorted out a problem with the display of search results on small screens.

Our colleagues across government have been helping us to amend and update content by letting us know where things are missing or not quite right, and this has been the top priority of our content team.

Once we’re confident that all the user needs we’ve picked up from Directgov and Business Link have been accurately met on GOV.UK we can move on to improving the overall user experience, as well as using our data to optimise high demand content and tools. And as we do all of that, we’ll tell you about it here.

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  1. Comment by Girl talk | From small seeds posted on

    [...] and many fabulous and talented colleagues, male and female. We reached over a million people on the first day and made it simpler, clearer and faster for them to interact with the UK [...]

  2. Comment by Hello GOV.UK | Dafydd Vaughan posted on

    [...] it at the same time. The teams at GDS monitored how the site was working, responded to feedback and made fixes where [...]

  3. Comment by chft posted on

    Where is the old content? Not all of us have the literacy levels of five year olds.

  4. Comment by Sarah Prag posted on

    Hi all and thanks for your comments.

    #Tomrup – thanks very much, and in terms of typos, it should be on the site within a couple of days.

    #alexcoley – our first priority has been the publishing of information, as content and simple tools on GOV.UK. The next stage is to work with departments to transform transactions, rather than just re-brand them.

    #Dave – if you’ve got any specific examples of redirects that you think could be more relevant then do let us know via and we’ll take a look


    • Replies to Sarah Prag>

      Comment by Alex Coley posted on

      Thanks for your follow up Sarah. But given what you have written it is completely disingenuous to tell visitors to that "this site replaces Directgov" if it doesn't actually replace Directgov.

      You know as well as I do that the most popular transactions on Directgov/ have not been changed let alone replaced in any way. As far as building trust with the public this shambolic mixed branding is disastrous. And it's the kind of confusing own goal that creates an opportunity for scams to exploit. How does the public know what is authentic now?

      When you use language like "our first priority.." and "the next stage is.." you are telling people that you have in fact launched a live beta, not a finished product ready for the public to put their faith in. And yes I realise the intent of agile methodology in your processes but you must surely realise that the general British public are not all technology acolytes. A stoic Blitz 'make do and mend' mentality will not suffice. The omnishambles has gone digital.

  5. Comment by Dave posted on

    "Not every redirect was perfect though, so one of the things we’ve been focusing on is fixing or improving any mappings that were sending people to the wrong place. In a few cases we’ll also update the mappings when new or amended content is published, but everything should now be pointing to something useful."

    Given the scale of your task I think you've done pretty well, but the statement '... everything should be pointing to somethign useful' isnt really accurate. Perhaps it's bad use of words, whilst everything might point to something 'useful' not everything points to something 'relevant'. There's a difference.

    Anyway - I'm being picky - it's early days and I've no doubt things will improve. 🙂

  6. Comment by alexcoley posted on

    You mention Car Tax, JSA, Job Search and Benefits Adviser as the most visited content on day one. Upon following each of those links I am sent to pages which are branded as Directgov.

    Now that Gov.UK has launched and its predecessors closed isn't it time to clearly and openly explain why the highest volume transactions have not been changed? People will rightly wonder why the busiest destinations in the government online estate have not at the very least been reskinned to match the Gov.UK brand.

    It's confusing to users to be told that Gov.UK replaces Directgov and then be sent to a page branded Directgov. Given the volume of users visiting those transactions this is a question that the majority of the almost one million, day one visitors will have asked themselves.

    If it's supposed to be about users and it's supposed to be simpler. This is not a hack day. Could you at the very least explain why that piece of the user experience has been foregone?

    • Replies to alexcoley>

      Comment by John J posted on

      Alex, I agree wholeheartedly. The scenario you hint at seems eminently plausible. Having already seen a message saying "this website replaces Directgov", if I then landed on a Directgov branded page I would assume something had gone wrong. I certainly wouldn't feel confident using it for something as important as renewing my car tax - I'd head straight back to to find the new page I should be using. It's fine, as Sarah says below, to "transform transactions rather than just re-brand them" - but at least slap on a new banner while you're doing that!

  7. Comment by tomrup posted on

    Hi - Congrats on the work so far. What's the turnaround for typos - how quickly should I expect to see the one I reported yesterday morning fixed? Now that you're out of beta, do you have SLAs or other metrics for managing these sort of things?

  8. Comment by Rory Gibson posted on

    A job well done!