https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2013/10/17/gov-uk-one-year-on/

GOV.UK one year on

A year ago today - at around 4am in fact - GOV.UK came out of beta, becoming the best place to find government services and information. Twelve months on, and we have 1000 publishers using the platform, six million visitors every week, and well over a hundred thousand urls sat under www.gov.uk.

In the last few days we’ve been sharing some of the interesting performance data from the past 12 months. It's not all about data though; we’ve learnt an awful lot more from the past year.

Learning at scale

We’ve used an agile delivery approach, learning how to scale it to work across multiple teams working towards a common programme and testing all the way. Putting as many of our ideas in front of real users in the form of alpha and beta products has been invaluable in helping us understand exactly what works and what doesn’t.

That’s helped us make big changes, like no longer using the name ‘Inside Government’ to refer to information from departments and other organisations. Users didn’t understand what it meant and, as Etienne said last year, everything we do starts with their needs.

We’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand exactly what we mean by detailed guides and looking at how we can improve the user experience for people who are browsing the site. In June we made a significant improvement to the site search (although it took longer than we’d have liked to get to it).

All of this has been made possible thanks to our infrastructure platform, which has enabled us to release quickly and often. In its first year we released more than 1,500 application changes to GOV.UK, not to mention publishing and updating countless pieces of content and guidance.

We’re still not finished

We make this point time and again, but it bears repeating: GOV.UK isn’t finished.

The transition of hundreds of government websites is only just beginning. Adam Bye from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has just written about the transition from FCO's perspective while Alice Ainsworth from the Department of Health wrote about their experience moving over to GOV.UK earlier this year. They've had first-hand experience of something many more teams are about to go through. You can stay up to date on that work over on the transition team’s blog, and on the specialist blog for the transition of HMRC’s website.

And we’ve got a lot of work to do to start opening up our APIs and making sure that all of the content of GOV.UK is as open and accessible as we can make it. We’ll be writing more about that soon.

There is a lot more work to do, and we’re going to be very busy today and for a long while to come. But we will be having cake and balloons in the office - it is a birthday party after all.

Follow James on twitter: @jthornett

7 comments

  1. Deborah

    The website is a nightmare. Lots of documents are now in places that are far from obvious eg: consultations. Even the "links" in this ariticle don't go anywhere!

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    • Graham Francis

      Hi Deborah - thanks for taking the time to comment.

      We're really, really keen to have any specific examples of where particular things aren't working for you, so if you could use our feedback form (https://www.gov.uk/feedback/contact) to let us know exactly what you were trying to do - and why it didn't work - that'd be fantastic.

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  2. Stephen Forster

    It seems its only the GDS and Government who think GOV.UK is the best place to find government services, the rest of can't seem to find anything easily on the site.

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  3. Sue

    The links on this page work fine for me.

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  4. Andrew Robertson

    Have GOV.UK thought about adding a 'search feedback' link near the top of the search results page? Like Stephen's comment, a few colleagues have criticised the search on GOV.UK ("I can't find anything"). But when I ask for specific examples, they can't tell me (and often back down and change the 'anything' to 'some things'!).
    If there was a feedback option nearer the top, perhaps that would prompt them to tell you of problems there and then?
    The 'anything wrong with this page' link is often too far down search results pages, and many people I speak to haven't noticed the 'feedback' link in the grey section at the bottom of every page.
    I've noticed a search feedback option where there are no matching search results, but not when there are irrelevant search results.

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    • Andrew Robertson

      I've noticed the 'feedback' link in the grey footer of the page has been replaced by 'contact', which now provides links to the more popular items, then a click to the feedback form.

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  5. Sarah

    Love the approach to the site, it's like a wonderful glorified sitemap, and from a sheer design perspective it is so decidedly...British. I so wish that the builders of healthcare.gov here in the US would have taken some cues from you all. Tragic!

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