The UK has a tradition of excellence in public services. However, this has not always translated into excellent online services. The UK government is now pursuing a ‘digital first’ and ‘digital by default’ agenda which aims to design and deliver world class digital public services.
Mike Bracken is the Executive Director for the UK Government’s Digital Service, responsible for delivering ‘customer first’ digital services. Speaking at the ‘Agenda Setters’ stream of seminars at this year’s Internet World event, he described how a transformed, agile approach to design and development is opening up online government services.
Gov.uk is the new single site for government services (replacing Direct.gov). Currently in beta, the site provides simple, clear and fast answers and is designed with external users in mind. An example of this customer focus can be seen in the contrasting treatment of the same information – in this case about public holidays in the UK.
On Direct.gov, this information is displayed in a table – the information is correct, it is simply not easy on the eye. The new site answers the key question that most people searching for bank holiday information want answered – When is the next bank holiday? It is a simple, yet revolutionary approach to delivering truly customer first information.
Key elements and principles of UK.gov
- Digital first and digital by design
- Users first! The users ‘trump’ the government department(s) in all decisions
- Digital services NOT websites
- Less information – much of the ‘marginal’ information currently available on Direct.gov will not be transferred onto Gov.UK
- Quick tasks and answers – for example, by answering four simple questions you can discover your maternity entitlements
- Understand the user journey – 90% of users will come into the site via search engines, not via expensive ‘home pages’
- Devices and mobile - the content is designed for mobile delivery
- Agile development – small teams are involved in iterative development. These are not massive, long term IT projects This approach means you can ‘fail in increments’ and do something about it
- Learn from experience
- Build a trusted network of partners – a contrast with previously strained relationships with large external providers. Work with world class digital businesses
Today, the government has announced a new advisory board to help drive the next stage of Digital by Default. Leading figures from academia, industry and retail will help the government deliver its digital transformation agenda.