We launched GOV.UK Forms’ private beta back in April 2022 and we’re now ready to move into our next phase - ‘Early Access’.
So far, we’ve been working closely with 11 private beta partners and over 60% have already published forms. We’ve published 17 forms and we’ve got a pretty healthy pipeline of more forms being worked on. Our remaining partners are all getting closer to publishing their first forms which is hugely encouraging too. This means we’ve helped to solve some common problems experienced by lots of form owners and form processors.
Quotes from partners
This is happening at ridiculous speed, it’s a fantastic opportunity. I’d still be struggling to get a PDF through!
- Dan M, Animal and Plant Health Authority
And we feel that now is a good time to release the value we’ve created and allow more teams to use the platform.
What does ‘Early Access’ mean?
During this phase, anyone who works in central government and has a gov.uk email address can try out using GOV.UK Forms by creating a trial account. They can learn about the platform and decide if this is going to be useful for them to build forms now. Trial accounts won’t allow users to create live forms but we’ll be considering requests to upgrade accounts, based on our criteria below.
This means giving access to our new form builder to more colleagues working in government. We’re doing this because we think we’ve got a great platform and lots of teams will benefit from using GOV.UK Forms, even at this early stage.
We want to do this in a managed way, one that helps us to test out new and existing features in a live environment and to scale up confidently.
Users can ask to upgrade their trial account and gain full access to the platform if:
- they’re confident they can create forms using the features available at the moment
- their organisation is ok with form responses being emailed individually to a team email address (we’re planning to support other ways of receiving form submissions but they’re not available yet)
- forms created using GOV.UK Forms will only be published on the GOV.UK website - not on other websites or for other uses such as internal forms or surveys
- the forms they make get no more than 10,000 submissions a year. We’ll be looking to expand this in the public beta phase of the roll out.
- they’re happy give us feedback and to take part in user research
It’s important to state that even with an upgraded account, users will not be able to publish any forms on GOV.UK themselves. To make a form findable on the website, form creators will need to work with their departmental publishing team to add a link and make any other content changes required.
We’re still in private beta and have lots to learn. Early access will help us to do this in a scalable way, releasing value to our users and tying this to our roadmap. We’ll be inviting more and more users to access the platform as we develop more features.
What GOV.UK Forms currently offers
We’re building a brand new platform which means we have a growing, but still limited, set of features right now. You can ask questions for names and addresses, or for longer text answers, as well as asking for dates and answers which require a number. You can also create questions which ask a person filling in a form to select options from a list. You can even allow a user to skip future questions based on a previous answer.
Another really great feature we’ve recently added allows you to include detailed guidance, where typical hint text does not provide enough context or information to help people answer a question. It allows you to add guidance, as well as formatting, like bullet points, subheadings and links.
You can choose how to format certain questions such as, whether to ask for a name in one box or split this into first name and surname. We support autofill, allowing a user’s browser to automatically suggest information they’ve provided on other websites, for example for names, addresses and dates of birth.
We’ve just released a new feature to send confirmation emails to people who have filled out a form using an integration with GOV.UK Notify. Another cool feature allows you to see some simple form metrics, including weekly completion rates and the number of form submissions. This helps form owners to manage and to iterate forms, making them better and easier to fill out.
What happens next?
Over the next few months we’ll be developing our functionality in order to move into public beta where anyone working in central government will be able to use the product in a self-service way. We are hoping to move into public beta in the spring.
Before we move into public beta, we will integrate with GOV.UK Pay so people filling out forms can make payments using a payment link. We will also add functionality that allows users to include additional answers to the same question, a common pattern used on around 35% of government forms. For example, if a question asks for an address history for the past 5 years, users will be able to add multiple addresses.
We will iterate our sign-up journey and account management process to make it fully self-service. We will also complete some technical work to make sure our platform can scale for the increased demand.
Why we think this is a big deal and how you can get involved
Our aim is to design an easy to use, self-service tool which has an accessible interface, built with common GOV.UK Design System components. In this way, we think the new platform is a crucial tool to help us deliver better government services.
It’s our vision that all forms on GOV.UK will be accessible, easy to use and quick to process. This isn’t an easy goal - there are almost 10,000 document-based forms, most of which need to be transformed. GOV.UK Forms is making this vision real! Our product team has done a stellar job of creating research-backed solutions to real user problems, releasing value for the civil service and UK society. This is transformation and this team is on fire!
Amanda Dahl, Deputy Director, Digital Service Platforms, GDS
We’re already working closely with a number of teams to plan how they will improve their forms and help shape our product, both now and as we release more features in the coming months. If you work in central government, we’d love to hear from you, please do get in touch.
You can read more about the features we already have, and what we're working on next, on our product site.
Early Access is our big idea for scaling up! We hope you’re interested in working with us, learning more and helping to shape the development of future form features. We can only do this with your help, so please share with colleagues and any civil servants who may be interested in our form builder too.
We’ll also be hosting a webinar to discuss the new form builder and what’s coming up in January 2024. Details will be on our product site.