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What we’re working on: 9 September 2015

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What we’ve been working on since the last update, and what we plan to do next.

What we’ve done since 21 August

Running and supporting GOV.UK

To keep GOV.UK accurate, available and secure, and to meet the most pressing needs of end users, we’ve:

  • created a GOV.UK status page. From time to time we experience outages on the GOV.UK site or publishing applications. When we have outages, we'll use this page to tell you what the problem is, what it affects and when you can expect an update on our progress with fixing the problem.
  • begun work to better address 404 error pages on GOV.UK - analysing why users are reaching these error pages and fixing them where we can, eg by setting up redirects to commonly misspelled URLs
  • started a piece of work to better document all user needs for citizens and small businesses in Maslow (our tool to manage user needs)
  • moved detailed guides onto a /guidance URL to protect the root GOV.UK URL. This work is part of larger work to making GOV.UK simpler to navigate for users (although users won’t notice any change when looking for an individual detailed guide)
  • improved print style sheets for detailed guides by reducing white space and image display, to help those users who print out guidance and use it offline
  • added search term and synonym highlighting in site-search results - for example try searching for "apply" and the results page highlights both matches and related words such as "claim"

To meet the needs of the people who use the GOV.UK publishing tools, and our other colleagues across government, we’ve also:

  • trained 86 editors across government on how to use Whitehall publisher
  • developed a feature to allow GDS editors to withdraw and redirect statistics announcements, so they can help government editors if an announcement is published by mistake, without having to disrupt developers working on product improvements
  • worked with colleagues at HM Treasury to explore ways of improving the way user needs for the Budget are met on GOV.UK
  • finished a big piece of work with HMRC to tag their manuals, published by our third party API, to GOV.UK topics and sub topics
  • started displaying an unsupported browser warning message on our publishing tools when old browsers are detected, so editors understand why their layout may be disrupted and to encourage IT teams to upgrade browsers to a secure, supported version
  • allowed editors to bulk upload custom archived URLs to the Transition Tool
  • enabled attachments to be added to sections of manuals in Specialist publisher (currently only available to those with ‘admin’ permission)
  • transitioned search.hmrc to GOV.UK using the Transition Tool
  • worked with Defra to create a page on GOV.UK to meet farmers' needs, including promoting a single contact Defra phone number. This content is in Beta

To keep our technology stable and up-to-date, and to improve our ability to support users in future, we’ve:

  • upgraded Ruby and Rails for the Frontend app. This upgrade will ensure that our application is running on stable, secure modern technology. This allows us to better develop features on that application

Improving GOV.UK

Things we’ve done to improve GOV.UK in relation to the missions on our development roadmap:

Intuitive tagging workflow - alpha

  • finished research with the government content community into how our content tagging tools are used
  • started to prototype what a new topic tagging interface and workflow could look like
  • started the work to update the technical architecture of our tagging system to give us the flexibility we need

Comprehensive analytics

  • content leads have started a working group to develop a framework to measure content performance
  • we can now track journeys across domains for services that start on GOV.UK. This includes services not on the domain
  • we can now track external links and file attachment downloads in Google Analytics.

Links to local government

5 legacy site transitions

  • completed all the reviews and amends from the final round of fact-checking for the Planning Inspectorate transition.

Topic hierarchy for 1st theme

  • finished the review of our Information Architecture topic themes and agreed the first theme we will tackle. This is the first step to create a topic taxonomy for all of GOV.UK. We have now audited the sites content, identified high level content themes, now we need to create the topic tags for each of those themes.

16 content themes improved by October

  • we have a content plan for the Armed Forces theme, and have amended one item following our discovery phase. Next is a workshop with MOD to collaborate on the content redesign of the other items in the content plan

Things we plan to do next

In the coming 2 to 3 weeks we expect to:

  • complete SaBrE and Planning inspectorate transitions
  • complete our improvement work on Emergency travel documents content
  • upgrade Ruby and Rails for the static app
  • alert out of hours when Bouncer, our GOV.UK redirector, is down
  • start working through the first IA theme to build out our topic taxonomy

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.

Jack Church provides Programme Support for GOV.UK. Keep in touch: subscribe to email alerts from this blog.

If this kind of work appeals to you, take a look at Working for GDS – we’re usually in search of talented people to come and join the team.

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  1. Comment by Ale del Cueto posted on

    Hi Jack

    The last item on the list of things GDS has done since 21 August is about a GOV.UK page to meet farmers' needs. You've mentioned that the page is in Beta, but is it live? If it is, can we see it? It sounds really interesting.


    • Replies to Ale del Cueto>

      Comment by Ben Andrews posted on

      Hi Ale - thanks for your question.

      The page is not yet live as its something that is being worked on at the moment. It should be live within the next month.

      By beta I mean its a first iteration of a design that we hope will better meet the user needs of people in the farming community. The design and information architecture will evolve and I expect what we learn can then be applied to the programme of work to make it easier for users to find services and information on GOV.UK.



  2. Comment by Sandeep Klare posted on

    The link to the development roadmap is not showing anything

  3. Comment by Jack Church posted on

    Hi Sandeep, I have just tried it and it worked for me, is it working for you now?