Consultations was one of the themes of our sprint for the government team this fortnight. This included implementing designs that make it clearer what stage a consultation is at (e.g. open, closed and analysing responses, outcome).
Feedback vs Outcome
We've also tried to get rid of confusion around 'consultation responses' so that users can distinguish between
1. published feedback collected from citizens or
2. the final outcome of the consultation, which is government's response to that feedback.
To add this feature, we've changed the publishing interface, so that there are now separate tabs for these two things: 'Public feedback' and 'Final outcome'. Once you've created a consultation and saved the basic information, you'll see tabs like this:
You can add attachments to both of these tabs once you've written the summary and pressed save. Publishing feedback received from the public is optional.
100% of central government consultations on GOV.UK
From now on, all central government organisations' consultations should be listed on the consultations index, so that users can find a complete and reliable list on GOV.UK.
For exempt organisations, this will mean continuing to publish consultations on their separate sites, but with summary pages on GOV.UK linking out to them. To do this, you should select the 'This consultation is held on another website' option in the publishing interface, which will activate the new and better design for signposting consultation attachments on other sites.
Organisations which are due to join GOV.UK in the coming year will just start publishing consultations on GOV.UK early, instead of on their legacy sites. Here's our advice on redirection / sample text to use on non-exempt websites:
1. For consultations which are migrated to GOV.UK (that is: all open consultations and closed consultations pending a response, as at 1 Aug 2013) the documents and text should be removed from the original page and replaced with a message and link.
"This consultation can now be found at : [link]. GOV.UK is the new home on the web for all consultations from central government."
2. To help users find new consultations, a prominent message should be added to the consultations landing page/section of existing websites.
"All central government consultations from 1 Aug 2013 onwards can be found on GOV.UK. You can see our consultations here [link to filtered view for the org*] and subscribe to be notified by email [link to email signup preset to the org's consultations] when new consultations are available."
*Take care to remove the part of the URL which include the date filter parameters.
In both cases, it would be worth taking the opportunity to also explain transition. Eg:
"We will soon be moving all of our other information and services to GOV.UK, after which this website will close. For more information, see [link]"