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Roadmap update: Monday 29 September

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We post roadmap updates twice a month. These posts show what the GOV.UK team has recently changed and what we’re working on next.

The second post in each month includes an updated, full product roadmap which gives a longer-term view of the changes we’re planning.

Download the October roadmap document here

Things we’ve done since 12 September

For end users

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve:

  • completed transition of 4 more agencies including Intellectual Property Office, leaving 53 agencies to go
  • completed changes relating to the UK centralisation of the process of registering a birth or death overseas for a further 35 countries
  • finished work on the ability to mark content as being in beta
  • added a postcode filter to the business support finder
  • completed building and importing content into a finder for air accidents investigations (currently awaiting the content to be published)
  • built a finder for drug and medical device recall notices, and a separate finder for drug safety updates, for the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
  • lowered the search ranking for pages about closed organisations, so they’re less prominent in search results
  • improved the lookup of high profile groups (ie: UKVI and GDS) on the organisations page
  • made some front end changes to standardise the appearance of multiple choice checkboxes and radio buttons on some popular pages including all smart answers

For government publishers

For our users around government, we’ve:

  • limited editing of organisations so that only publishers belonging to that organisation can edit and publish that content
  • added a new sub-type of publication called ‘regulations’ to unblock transition of the Military Aviation Authority
  • migrated useful user needs information from a legacy application and some spreadsheets into Maslow, our needs database. This is the beginning of a piece of work to improve our data about the needs GOV.UK meets

Technical improvements

In the past few weeks we’ve deployed a short url manager application to make it possible for non-technical staff to set up short URLs.

Things we plan to do next

For end users

In the next couple of weeks, we plan to:

  • continue to transition more agencies onto GOV.UK
  • add email notifications to the finder for safety updates, alerts and recalls for drugs and medical devices, and begin the work of adding email notifications to sub-topic pages
  • show users related contacts pages from the contact page they’re looking at in the contacts finder application (currently only used by HMRC)

For government publishers

We will:

  • continue to work on publishing user needs and usage data about GOV.UK pages, to help content designers measure performance and improve content
  • continue to make progress on a tool to make it possible for GDS content designers to build and update smart answers, freeing up developers to work on features
  • speed up the load time of the document creating/editing form in Whitehall Publisher
  • iterate the publishing workflow in Whitehall Publisher, so that a creating editor can review and publish a document if another editor submits it
  • iterate the feature in Whitehall Publisher to publish publication pages which link to a document hosted on another website

Technical improvements

On the tech side, we will continue work towards a single publishing pipeline with a focus on URL arbitration (stopping applications from trying to use the same URL for different pages). This is important work so that GOV.UK can remain flexible and continue to grow.

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  1. Comment by E. Brown posted on

    Hi Neil et al,

    Your update includes:
    "lowered the search ranking for pages about closed organisations, so they’re less prominent in search results"

    Is there any option to lower search rankings for archived documents?

    Also in search: is there any plan to improve the 'did you mean X' algorithm?

    My main reason for asking: one of our biggest programmes is around influenza esp seasonal influenza. But there's no agreed title, we alternate between 'seasonal influenza' and 'seasonal flu'.

    If you search for 'seasonal flu' you get a completely different search result order than for 'seasonal influenza', and unfortunately, 'seasonal flu' pulls up a group of out of date documents. They've now been archived, but they're still very prominent - top rankings. Our 'annual flu programme' collection, where all the current documents are, is comparatively hard to find.

    We want a search for 'seasonal flu' to pull up 'seasonal influenza' as well. This is not the only synonym but it's one that matters a lot to PHE, esp in autumn and winter.

    Different question: in your 'roadmap', under 'in progress', what do the percentages mean? Does this refer to:
    - percentage of effort you'll invest this sprint
    - completed-ness of project
    - how much effort remains to finish the task?

    I'm afraid it's not clear to me: please clarify?

    • Replies to E. Brown>

      Comment by Ben Andrews posted on

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your feedback and questions.

      We do indeed plan to lower the search rankings for archived content, as well as improve the ‘did you mean’ functionality. I hope these are features we can implement soon after the transition project has ended.

      A quick look at our search logs shows most users search for just 'influenza' or 'flu' (about 1,000 each in the past month). There were 35 searches for 'seasonal flu' and 33 for 'seasonal influenza' in the past month.

      We already had ‘best-bets’ (i.e a forced top result) for 'influenza' or 'flu' but following your comment we have improved the detail a little so you should see this change shortly. We will look at the data in more detail at a later date to see how this can be further improved.



  2. Comment by Neil Williams posted on

    Hello, sorry for tardy reply. Ben from the search and browse team will reply about your search-related questions.

    The percentages on the roadmap are a rough indication of progress, based on each product manager's current understanding of the total amount of work and the work already done. The numbers can go down as well as up, for example if the scope grows or the technical work turns out to be more complex than expected. Given the lack of science behind them, I asked at the recent steering group whether these were useful to people and the consensus was that we should keep them.