Today we release the latest version of the GOV.UK homepage.
Since the last major revision of the page (which Ben wrote about last year), dozens of ministerial departments and other government organisations have joined GOV.UK.
Our new homepage makes it easier for people to find information issued by these organisations. We've also made several other tweaks in response to user feedback since launch.
More prominent site search and new navigation
The focus of the homepage should still be fairly familiar. We’ve retained the directory-style list of links to the most popular services and information, as this tests well for helping users to find what they need. We’ve also kept the list of most visited content.
But around one in ten visitors to the GOV.UK homepage use the search box to navigate the site, and we’ve recently been spending time improving the performance of site search, so we’ve increased the prominence of the search box on the homepage.
Easier to find information from government departments
The most significant change is the new area in the middle of the page called ‘departments and policy’. This replaces the old ‘Inside Government’ title - which we found didn’t really resonate with many users (we’ll be writing more about this soon).
In this section we’ve included prominent links to departments, topics, policies, publications and worldwide content. Testing on the previous homepage showed that users often found it confusing to move between these areas and the GOV.UK homepage - we think these new links better signpost different destinations.
We’ve also tried to help out less experienced visitors by including links to information about how government works, and how to get involved.
These changes all helped users find the information they needed more effectively during testing, but of course we’ll keep watching the metrics and reading your feedback to make sure every aspect of the homepage is performing well.
One immediate priority is to look at how the GOV.UK homepage can help users find out how government transactions and content are performing. We’ll also be focusing on the category navigation (eg ‘citizenship and living in the UK’) to make sure this makes sense to users, and looking at how we can incorporate topical content about government activity (of the kind that’s making national news headlines).
With just over 8% of users to GOV.UK visiting the homepage it’s critical we keep monitoring and improving this page to make sure it makes things simpler, clearer and faster.