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Quarterly update: wrapping up 2016 to 2017 and starting our new roadmap

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Vision and plans, What we're working on

On 3 April 2017, GOV.UK began its new roadmap. Here’s a summary of what we delivered in the final quarter of the 2016 to 2017 roadmap, and the work that’s to follow.

The end of the 2016 to 2017 roadmap

Earlier on this year, GOV.UK had its head down to make sure we delivered the 2016 to 2017 roadmap. And we did it.

We completed rebuilding our publishing platform. This was a tough piece of work, but of everything we delivered last year this is what makes everything on the 2017 to 2018 roadmap - with lots of visible delivery - possible. We’ve written quite a bit about how we’ve changed our Whitehall Publishing application, Specialist Publishing application and Mainstream Publishing application.

We deployed the new navigation for education content because we know we need to improve the finding of things on GOV.UK. This involved a strong partnership with the Department for Education (DfE) and its agencies to audit around 4,000 pieces of content, which could then be tagged. We’re currently testing the new navigation with 50% of users - initial results are positive. We built a new new A/B testing framework to do this work, which other teams can now use.

To support the new taxonomy, and to help us meet email subscription user needs better, we’ve begun improving our email subscription service. You can see how the email subscription process is changing. There’ll be more on this next year.

Now that we’ve completed work on a new content operating model we understand more about state of content production across government and the needs of publishers. We’ll use what we’ve learnt to scale the work we’ve done on improving the education navigation across other themes to improve the content and the finding of it.

We also delivered the alpha of the Content Performance Manager. This tool lets users create an inventory of GOV.UK content by department, the 'single subject taxonomy' (currently just education related content) or search term used to get to the page. They can then aggregate lists of content by page views, time since last update and format type. They can also see other data that is helpful to content designers such as feedback from users. This is important work as we increase the focus on the management of content after it’s been published.

Transition kicked off again - moving content to GOV.UK from other domains, and working to close sites that are now duplicative. In the last quarter we transitioned 14 websites for Public Health England, closed 3 and planned for a further 5 to close later.

We’re improving our use of analytics to inform product decisions and to measure the success of our work. We’ve identified common internal user needs for analytics data, mapped and analysed the information we currently use, and prepared all teams for how we’ll measure and report on our work next year.

We've trialled different ways of asking users if they've found what they're looking for on the GOV.UK survey to increase our confidence in the data we get from it. We've also redesigned how we invite people to take the survey, and run 3 pop-up rounds of user research.

We’ve partnered with Citizens Advice to share their data with government. They’ve now made public a dashboard. This work means that all of government can access information on the issues that people go to Citizens Advice for.

We’ve completed a further round of benchmarking on GOV.UK’s users - to find out if GOV.UK is getting easier to use. We’ll be writing more about this soon.

We’ve launched a user research panel for GOV.UK, and have started a trial with 2 government departments.

We’ve partnered with other government departments and agencies on a number of projects including:

  • supporting HM Treasury with publishing the budget in HTML
  • working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to improve user journeys through benefits content - we’ll continue this work in the new roadmap
  • continuing to work with UK Visas and Immigration to design and measure a series of iterations to family visa content
  • workshops with HMRC to improve user journeys into personal tax account content
  • regular meetings with HM Passport Office to plan and iterate passports content
  • continuing to work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to simplify the user experience and improve the process for updating Marriage Abroad smart answers
  • Supporting the Ministry of Justice in the creation of 5 new finders for Courts and Tribunals content
  • hosting content design exchanges with colleagues from the Department for Exiting the EU, DWP, HMRC, the Skills Funding Agency, Jersey and Welsh governments.
  • created a new Finder for the Department For International Development, alongside their agency, so that they can close a separate website housing research documents.
  • supporting the Department for Culture, Media and Sport publish their UK digital strategy in HTML
  • and of course, all required support through the triggering of Article 50

We’ve successfully delivered events for our colleagues across government including the biggest ever ConCon - our annual content conference - and our quarterly showcase events too.

We’ve also trained over 286 people in the last 3 months (1,413 in the year) so that they can confidently publish to GOV.UK.

And in addition to all of our roadmap work, we’ve maintained our support targets. As part of this our content review process has been significantly improved, reducing average time in internal review from 13 days to 4.

The new roadmap

The new roadmap started on 3 April 2017. We started with a 2-week ‘blitz’ - a chance for us to:

  • fix small, known problems, deliver some quick improvements that aren’t in our plans for the year
  • do things to improve our working efficiency
  • get us thinking about how to work on a fixed time but flexible scope basis - the way we’ll be working throughout the year
  • give everyone a chance to recharge their batteries and get to know their new team

We’ll blog soon about the work we delivered in this period.

After that, we started our first 11 week mission phase, working to deliver the most valuable work we can in that time, while building responsibly in the time available. We’ve another blog post coming soon on what we mean by responsible and sustainable building, as it’s an important topic for us to cover in more detail.

We’ve left the scope of the work we’ve planned deliberately open on how teams will work on the problems we’ve prioritised. We’ll be blogging about the work so we can share details of the problems we’re addressing, how we’re addressing them and what we’ve learnt.

Jennifer Allum is GOV.UK's Lead Product Manager. You can follow Jen on Twitter.

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