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Roadmap update: Wednesday 25 March

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Your regular round-up of recent and planned changes to GOV.UK, including the April issue of the product development roadmap.

Download the April roadmap (updated 25.03.15)

This will be the last roadmap update until after the general election. This blog (and all other government blogs) will be going quiet for a while in line with civil service procedures in the run-up to elections, but work will carry on as always.


For the whole of this period we’ll continue to focus on:

  • supporting and improving GOV.UK content and functionality in response to change and evidence of unmet or underperforming needs
  • readying the site for the election
  • making it easier for users to find things through site search and navigation
  • unifying the publishing system to make it simpler and easier to improve our publishing applications

Content design

GOV.UK’s content team will be taking the opportunity during the pre-election reduced publishing period to catch up, restructure and try new ideas, having not had chance to do so during January’s firebreak. This means that from 8 April to 6 May we will only be supporting urgent and mandatory changes to centrally-managed pages of the website.

What we’ve done since 11 March

For end users

Since the last update, we’ve:

For government publishers

For our users around government, we’ve:

Technical and process improvements

On process, we’ve continued to develop improvement plans for different areas of GOV.UK and explained more about them.

On the technology side, we’ve continued to build a unified publishing system, with the goal of ensuring our technical architecture is simple and flexible enough to continue to adapt to meet users’ needs. Recent work has involved setting up and deploying a new draft (ie content preview) publishing pipeline, creating a single publishing API for publishing applications, and developing plans to publish all content in the case study format from Whitehall publisher through the new publishing pipeline and serve them from the new government frontend.

We’ve also been laying some better technical foundations for improving the information architecture, moving content tagging controls from one application to another.

Things we plan to do next

For end users

In the next couple of weeks, we expect to:

  • start the work that will link up mainstream browse with sub topic browse pages, so we can begin to phase out detailed guide categories
  • review the card sorting exercise related to our service-oriented model of parenting and childcare content and begin planning an alpha to try out this approach
  • continue with our content audit to better understand the content now it’s all in one place and build an improved information architecture into GOV.UK. This will make it easier for users to navigate the site and find what they are looking for
  • finish priority post-transition improvements to HMRC content
  • publish new mainstream content and updates (new policies,  adjusting rates, fees and values) for government services because of the new financial year, including pensions reform
  • finish the current batch of improvements to manuals:
    • allowing users to search within a manual
    • allowing users to download an entire manual as a PDF
  • deploy a new Countryside Stewardship finder
  • support UK Visas and Immigration as they change the visa application routes requiring extensive changes to mainstream content
  • rename a number of organisations including Highways Agency (relaunching as Highways England), Treasury Solicitors Office (now the Government Legal Department) and National Measurement Office (now the National Measurement and Regulation Office)
  • retitle policies to reflect what users want

For government publishers

We plan to:

  • publish (later this week) the results of our content strategy workshop with government publishers
  • continue building the new policy format and transition old policy content into it
  • iterate the design of ‘history mode’ messages on previous governments’ content to reflect what we’ve learned from user research
  • optimise publishing tools for handling changes to the machinery of government
  • make some improvements to the publishing interface for specialist publisher

Technical and process improvements

On the tech and process side, we plan to:

  • complete the upgrade of our Rummager app to Elasticsearch 1.4
  • test that our Universal Google Analytics tagging is correctly set up, before we turn off Classic Google Analytics (this test will run for 6 to 8 weeks)
  • deploy the draft publishing pipeline to preview, staging and production
  • get all case studies from Whitehall publisher being previewed and published through the new publishing pipeline and serve them from the new government frontend application

As always, if any of this is unclear, or if you have feedback on whether we’re prioritising the right stuff, please do comment on this post to let us know.

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