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