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Putting growth at the heart of GOV.UK’s strategy

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

The GOV.UK logo on a pink background.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) exists to make the user experience of the government simple, consistent and welcoming for everyone. To do this, GDS builds, iterates and maintains digital tools and platforms that are part of everyday life in the UK; platforms like GOV.UK - the online home of government information and services.

GOV.UK is an integral part of our national infrastructure. Millions of people visit daily for everything from registering a death to paying their taxes.

But, we know GOV.UK can do more - and must do more - for its users. This is why we have growth at the heart of our plans. We want to grow our product offer, grow our user base, and grow our team.

Why does growth matter? It’s about making sure more people are getting better outcomes from government. We want to make it quicker and easier for users to access information and services, in formats and channels of their choice, helping them to receive the full support that they are entitled to.

So in this blog post I’m going to set out our strategy for GOV.UK until 2025.

Where GOV.UK is now 

Before we look ahead, let’s explain where we are now. 

Since we launched 10 years ago, GOV.UK is now the established digital interface between government and the public. It’s well used - with over 28 billion page views since go-live - and is consistently among the most-visited websites in the country. It's extremely well known according to YouGov, and the signature design and logo is instantly recognisable as the trusted source of government information and services. GOV.UK has become truly essential to living, working and studying in the UK.

Over that time, we’ve experimented with providing a more interactive service on GOV.UK, for example: 

  • we built (and subsequently retired) the Brexit Checker, used over 5.6 million times, which returned tailored guidance for individuals and business about what they needed to do to prepare for Brexit, and allowed them to subscribe to updates about future changes that may impact them
  • during the pandemic, more than 700,000 questions were submitted through for the COVID-19 press conferences; and a postcode checker, which allowed people to find lockdown rules in their area, received 32 million unique page views

These case studies show that by providing a more proactive, interactive and relevant GOV.UK user experience, we can help people to get the right support from government, and help government to communicate and deliver services to people. 

What more GOV.UK can do 

We want to:

  • grow GOV.UK to reach people when and where they need government information
  • make GOV.UK more proactive in helping people
  • evolve to match user expectations for new technologies

How does this translate into delivery for the next year or so? Below are our programme priorities:

  1. Develop a GOV.UK app
  2. Explore whether emerging technologies can help users when interacting with GOV.UK, for example to find information more easily
  3. Develop our presence on social channels, such as YouTube
  4. Create new content types and expand use of existing formats such as video
  5. Update our homepage and site search
  6. Improve the user experience around specific, targeted journeys
  7. Evolve our content operating model
  8. Reduce the complexity of our publishing tools
  9. Expand and update GOV.UK brand guidelines

What's next?

GDS is adopting a new, ambitious and exciting direction for GOV.UK, and we know it will be challenging to deliver, but it's what government needs and what users expect.

It will involve trying new things. Like any good product team, we should never stand still. We're going to experiment, test our ideas and iterate quickly, using data and evaluation to measure the impact on users. 

It will also involve revisiting product decisions we've made in the past. A decade is a lifetime in tech and some of the choices made at the birth of GOV.UK may no longer be the right ones.

We also know this can’t be done within a single team. Within GDS, we’re working closely with colleagues on GOV.UK One Login for Government to make sure we’re delivering an even more useful experience for the growing number of signed-in users. This includes aligning our app work with the GOV.UK One Login programme’s identity checking app. And, looking across government, it’s only through partnerships with departments that we’re able to provide a consistent and high-quality user experience on GOV.UK, so we’ve created this strategy by engaging with cross-government stakeholders and will continue to partner with them every step of the way.

There’s a lot of information in here, and while this is my first blog post, it definitely won’t be my last. We’re going to be shortly updating our public roadmap over on Inside GOV.UK to show our new workstreams, along with a deep dive into how we created the strategy and data behind it; and I’ve committed to quarterly updates on this blog to give more details. 

If you want to get in touch, please do so via the comments below, or to I look forward to hearing from you.

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  1. Comment by Margaret Macklin posted on

    Great to see a plan for enhancing the current online functionality.

    There appears to be no options available currently to submit questions on most or all pages. I have a specific query which is not covered by any of the information provided and cannot see any means to contact to ask the question.
    Is this something which will be included going forward?

    Does your test plan includes specific tests for the older person or those who may not be very familiar with online technology or may have vision impairment?

    kind regards

  2. Comment by Darren Sanjeev Persaud posted on


    Sounds really interesting and can certainly see links to local government approach. Would there be any appetite to look at where and how this could fit with LA's?

    • Replies to Darren Sanjeev Persaud>

      Comment by The GOV.UK Team posted on

      Hi Darren,

      We're always keen to speak with our colleagues in local government and the devolved administrations! Understanding the opportunities there is an important part of the next phase of consultation and engagement and we'll be shaping our plans for that soon.

      The GOV.UK Team

  3. Comment by Amber posted on

    Thanks Chris, looking forward to it.

  4. Comment by Selina Holliday posted on

    Hi Chris,

    Great post!

    Having seen how other countries have been able to help their citizens through more joined up, proactive services particularly (both Estonia and Ukraine through their app Diia are pretty inspirational examples), this is good to hear.

    It totally makes sense to join the One Login project with the app. Look forward to hearing more.

  5. Comment by safiul posted on

    Thanks for the update! Would be good to know the answers to a couple questions about your app:

    1. Is your web service already designed to be responsive to different screen sizes? If not, why not?
    2. What is the user need that only a native/hybrid app can meet?
    3. Are there existing native/hybrid apps that already meet this user need?

    <a href="">Mr.Safiul</a&gt;

    • Replies to safiul>

      Comment by Dan Brember posted on


      Thank you for your comment, and the questions. I recgonise them from a GDS blog post published back in 2013! These questions are still relevant today, but we also need to take into the consideration the changes that have occurred over the last decade, in user behaviour and the technology landscape.

      The GOV.UK website is responsive to different screen sizes, and is designed to be so, and the majority of our traffic now comes via mobile - a shift from 2013. User research suggests that certain app functionality could help people to manage their interactions with government, for example like notifications. Within GDS, there is already an app - the One Login identity checking app (more details here: - and we want to explore consolidating that experience and enhancing it.

      Dan Brember, GOV.UK Deputy Director

  6. Comment by Ben Rusholme posted on

    Chris, what emerging technologies are you going to explore?

    • Replies to Ben Rusholme>

      Comment by Dan Brember posted on


      We’re exploring this at the moment, and our shortly updated public roadmap ( will have more details.

      Dan Brember, GOV.UK Deputy Director

  7. Comment by Paul David posted on

    The focus on experimentation and transparency here is so refreshing, thank you Chris. The focus on meeting users where they are and building more personalised journeys seems critical. I'll dig into the roadmap and let's be in touch to see if there are ways we can collaborate to help you reach these ambitious goals.

  8. Comment by Amber posted on

    Hi Chris,

    It's great to get an update and hear about your direction and priorities.

    When will your new roadmap be published? And can you share which specific user journeys you're mapping out? And how do you intend on interacting in a more proactive manner? I'd love to better understand that.


    • Replies to Amber>

      Comment by Chris Bellamy posted on

      Hi Amber,

      Thank you for your feedback, and yes we will shortly be updating our public roadmap (, which will have more details on all the work happening to deliver the strategy.


  9. Comment by Andy Porter posted on

    It would be good to see blog posts about the outcomes that the programme strategy is designed to meet. As it seems this is the first blogspot and contains solutions! Very real danger here of starting with solutions and you'll reverse engineer outcomes and user needs to meet these - aka old gov mentality.

    Also, what's essential are principles and standards for using new technologies and channels to ensure no one is excluded, marginalised, or receives inequitable treatment. These are essential and need to be set before solutions are created, or departments begin planning work, eg with AI, the app, etc.

    When will we get these?

  10. Comment by Robin Carswell posted on

    This looks like a quite interesting and new direction for GDS.

    Is there any user research or user need information that can point to the need for this work?

    Love to understand the background and underpinnings of this work further.

    • Replies to Robin Carswell>

      Comment by Chris Bellamy posted on

      Hi Robin,

      Thank you for your feedback. We’ll shortly be publishing more detail about how we developed the strategy which will give more details on the user insights. Alongside this, we will be updating our public roadmap which will show how we’re planning on delivering against the strategy.


  11. Comment by Tim posted on

    It would be helpful to understand what the key problems that the strategy is trying to solve for which users from research, that has led to the specific programme priorities.

    It would explain how the broad statements about being proactive and meeting expectations link with very specific actions like building an app.

    Could you also please say what won’t do or will stop doing as a result of this strategy?

    • Replies to Tim>

      Comment by Chris Bellamy posted on

      Hi Tim,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      We have a wealth of user insight that GOV.UK is not reaching and effectively serving some user groups, who might benefit from government information and services. We know it can be hard for people to find information and services, especially if they don't know what they are looking for. GOV.UK needs to work for everyone, so the strategy is about new and expanded channels, content and interactions to help more people get the most out of government. We will be iterating and using data to evolve and improve the work as we go, as any digital product team should.

      We’ll shortly be publishing more detail about how the strategy was developed and also updating our public roadmap, which will give more detail on the creation and delivery of the strategy.


      • Replies to Chris Bellamy>

        Comment by Owen Jones posted on

        Your comment about GOV.UK not reaching a lot of people is something about which I have personal experience. The authentication simply blocks people that badly need access - through no fault of their own. Different organisations, e.g HMRC, DWP, credit reference agencies, banks etc store information about people in different ways and they do not match up on individuals - hence the authentication failing. For example some organisations want a married surname and others a maiden one as an identifier. What is being done to address this? Is there a point of contact within Government to whom an individual can go to fix it?

        • Replies to Owen Jones>

          Comment by The GOV.UK Team posted on

          Hi Owen,

          Thanks for your comment. GOV.UK One Login is being developed with multiple routes through which people can prove their identity online. For example, there is the option of using a passport, driving licence or biometric residence permit. Knowledge based verification questions are also used alongside ID documents for some routes. GOV.UK One Login is currently using information from credit reference agencies as part of these questions, but later this year will also be using DWP and HMRC data.

          More information on the different routes available for GOV.UK One Login can be found at

          We are expecting that GOV.UK One Login will help solve the issue of data matching when a user changes their name. By creating a single accessible way for users to authenticate and identify themselves to access government services, departments will have a more reliable and consistent way of making sure they have the users correct details and can deliver the services users need.

          The GOV.UK Team

          • Replies to The GOV.UK Team>

            Comment by Owen Jones posted on

            Thank you for the response - I think my point about problems with authentication has been made. If multiple routes to authentication are being explored I hope that they will be succesful.

  12. Comment by Trilly Chatterjee posted on

    What does 'growth' mean - specifically? What is its purpose? Who really needs it?

    Why is growth in itself good?

    Or, put a different way: if an app is the answer, what's the question?

    Does this really constitute an 'ambitious and exciting' direction without meaningful answers to that question?

    • Replies to Trilly Chatterjee>

      Comment by Chris Bellamy posted on

      Hi Trilly,

      Thank you for your comment. We're not interested in growth for growth's sake - this is about helping more people to get better outcomes from their interactions with government. We have user insight that GOV.UK doesn't reach some user groups effectively and, when users do reach the site, it can be difficult to find what they need, especially if they're not sure what they're looking for.

      By offering a wider variety of channels and interactions, we want to help more people to access information and services that could be useful to them. We will be monitoring our work and iterating based on data and feedback from users.


  13. Comment by Luke B posted on

    Thanks for the update! Would be good to know the answers to a couple questions about your app:

    1. Is your web service already designed to be responsive to different screen sizes? If not, why not?
    2. What is the user need that only a native/hybrid app can meet?
    3. Are there existing native/hybrid apps which already meet this user need?
    4. Is your service available to 3rd parties via an API or open data? If not, why not?
    5. Does meeting this need justify the lifetime cost of a native or hybrid app?

    (Source: )

    • Replies to Luke B>

      Comment by Chris Bellamy posted on

      Hi Luke,

      Thank you for the comment. The questions raised in that blog post are pertinent, but since 2013 there have been a lot of changes in user needs and expectations, as well as in the technology landscape.

      The GOV.UK website is designed to be responsive to different screen sizes, and most of our traffic now comes from mobile as opposed to 2013. Our user research has suggested that native app functionality like notifications could help users manage their complex government services. There is already a GDS developed app - the One Login identity checking app - and user feedback is telling us they want additional utility from that, which is what we’re planning to explore.


  14. Comment by Gareth Joyce posted on

    Encouraging post. I wondered why an app is top of the priority list? What will the app do/provide that is not already dealt with by the GOV.UK website? - thanks.

    • Replies to Gareth Joyce>

      Comment by Chris Bellamy posted on

      Hi Gareth,

      Thanks for your comment. We want to make GOV.UK available in a wider variety of channels and formats to help reach more people and improve their experience of interacting with government. This is why we’re interested in exploring apps. It’s also true that GDS has an app now - the One Login identity checking app, so it makes sense to consider what advantages there could be for user experience.