At GOV.UK we have a clear vision for our work: we want to provide a trusted, joined-up and personalised service for our users. I’ve written about our plan before and work towards implementing it is already happening, as you can see in our 2020/21 GOV.UK roadmap.
We have 5 objectives for the year ahead that help us achieve our vision - all of them ensure that we continue to provide the service that people need and expect on GOV.UK.
1. Always be available, accessible and accurate
We support millions of visits every day. We cannot have issues with people struggling to reliably access information or services, or with questions relating to accuracy.
This is really important for trust, and is an absolute necessity given what GOV.UK does. This objective covers everything from our site resilience and security, to the continuous work to ensure that the content we (and the rest of government) publish is maintained and improved.
2. Support the government’s priorities of the day
GOV.UK must ensure that it is responsive to, and highlighting, the issues of the day for the user. Things like Brexit, coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Budget are examples of this.
GOV.UK is the digital interface between people and the government, and the authoritative source of what the government is saying and doing, and what it means for people day-to-day. This means it is imperative that GOV.UK works hard to communicate critical, and often changing, information.
3. Connect insights across GOV.UK to enable joined-up service delivery
This is so government understands its users, and users understand the government. It means we can design for whole user journeys, which move across departmental boundaries, rather than just iterating within our own organisations.
This is really important, given the user needs to join things up, and is an appropriate next stage in our digital maturity, as we start to work more actively across departmental (and service) boundaries. We’re doing this work with data privacy and security in the front of our minds - it’s about understanding aggregate trends and patterns.
4. Provide a personalised and proactive service
This means changing our operating model from one that is reactive and leaves the onus on the user, to one that appropriately uses data and permissions to provide a relevant and low-friction experience.
To achieve this, we’re advancing our work on the GOV.UK Account, and the development of even better notifications. We’re taking a privacy by design approach to our work, meaning we’re thinking about data privacy from the outset. We’re also coordinating closely with our digital identity colleagues at GDS as a critical partnership for this work.
5. Be channel agnostic
GOV.UK isn’t just a website. Accessing information and completing services is increasingly happening via other channels - search engines, voice assistants and more. We need to design for a world not of flat HTML, but of structured information that can be accessed in multiple different ways. We’re working to be where the user is.
These 5 things are mutually reinforcing - it ensures we can be relied on, are relevant, and are being smart about the work that we are doing.
Some of the work we’re doing involves experiments and prototypes that we can deliver immediate value on, but which more critically tell us what the essential requirements of the objectives above must be. That’s why we’re working on a ‘starting and sustaining a business’ pilot, why we’re doing exploratory work around understanding all the criteria used to assess service eligibility on GOV.UK, and why we’re looking to better understand the data that services use across GOV.UK.
This kind of work, coupled with the longer delivery timeframes around the GOV.UK Account and our analytics development, means we are delivering iteratively, but when combined will permit 10 times more value to meeting user needs. We’re designing for a moving target, so we have to be ambitious!
All of the work we do in GOV.UK supports one or more of these objectives for the next 12 months. We’ll soon be publishing the first version of the 2021/2022 roadmap so you can see more of the details of the work we’re intending to do.
It’s a busy and exciting time on GOV.UK, and I’m looking forward to the year ahead.