Government Launches GOV.UK

Open SourceRegulationSoftwareWorkspace

A single website for all government services goes online

Government Digital Service (GDS) has launched the GOV.UK website, which will replace DirectGov, Business Link and other government resources.

The project is a key element in the UK’s Digital by Default agenda, which was introduced in Martha Lane Fox in a 2011 report and endorsed by the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

From today, all content from DirectGov will be automatically transferred over to GOV.UK, and users will be automatically redirected to the new portal.

Government 2.0

The old DirectGov website was serving over 30 million visitors each month, but had used the same design and feature set for the last eight years.

The GOV.UK website was created to provide “simpler, clearer and faster” access to government services and has been constantly by real-world users. Both Alpha and Beta versions were made available to the public and feedback was gathered and fed into successive improvements.

This is a stark contrast to how large government IT projects have been delivered in the past. The agile, iterative approach means that the site can rapidly accommodate new standards for development and security, “catering to emerging technology platforms and user requirements”.

“We’re building GOV.UK the way Google build Google and Amazon build Amazon,” wrote Tom Loosemore, deputy director of the GDS earlier this year.

In the creation of the website, GDS made it a priority to use open source software and tools as much as possible. The Government believes the new, single website approach will lead to savings of around £70 million a year, due to software licensing, infrastructure, and operational cost savings.

GOV.UK currently includes features to satisfy 667 citizen “needs”. In comparison with its predecessor, it boasts improved search algorithms, simplified interface and a clean, modern design that’s a far cry from the bright orange DirectGov.

“GOV.UK is focused on the needs of users, not the needs of government. It has been planned, written, organised and designed around what users need to get done, not around the ways government want them to do it – providing only the content they need and nothing superfluous,” said Francis Maude.

“In the way it has been built – and will continue to be updated and improved on the basis of experience and user feedback – GOV.UK is an example of how the Civil Service should keep continuously changing and improving and remain focused on outcomes,” he added.

“Government Digital Service has an ambitious but achievable programme. We know that moving to the single domain with the user-focused, iterative approach we have adopted will result in better services for users and substantial savings for government,” commented Mike Bracken, executive director of the GDS.

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