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Redesigning change notes and measuring the result

Usually, users want to see the latest and most up to date information on a given policy, announcement, consultation etc. But they may also want to know how it has changed.

We have this information, because our publishing tool requires writers to add an explanatory note if they make a substantive change to a piece of content.

However, both user testing and feedback from departments showed that users weren't aware they could see the history of the piece of content they were looking at. This is because they didn't realise that you could bring up the change notes by clicking on the date it was last updated.

It used to look like this:



We redesigned it to make it much clearer, so that you now access change notes by clicking on a link which says 'see all updates':


We added some tracking in the analytics so we could see the impact of this change. Looking at the data for the two weeks before the change and the two weeks after the change, we see that around 4 times more people are looking at the change notes than before. This is an early indication that our changes were successful.

Views for change notes
Views for change notes

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  1. Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

    Good stuff. We're not yet using GOV.UK, so apologies if this is obvious: is there a way to see the previous versions? We sometimes need to prove exactly what guidance was valid on a certain date, sometimes at short notice for a court case. Would that be easy to provide to a judge sat in court? (We can just retrieve a PDF at the moment). Thanks.

  2. Comment by Neil Williams posted on

    Hi Andrew

    You have a few options here.

    On the public facing site, you have the option of adding rather than overwriting files attached to publication pages, so that version history is maintained. Or just explaining the changes in the change notes.

    In the admin (publishing) interface, a full version history of published editions is maintained and you can see a diff of the changes. That won't include a diff of the attachments, though.

    We may, in future, expose a full diff to the public - but that's some way off yet.