Government Access

The UK Government’s new website launches today, combining both the previous Directgov and Business Links sites. GOV.UK is a clean and crisp redesign that offers users looking for quick answers to queries such as the current Minimum Wage, a much more streamlined and easy to navigate way to access such information. GOV.UK is the first project by the new Government Design Service, which was set-up a year ago to lead a design overhaul of not only the Government’s online presence  but the way it actually interacts with the public.

Directgov, the garishly orange precursor to the new site, was one of the UK’s most visited websites – larger than Tesco, but not quite as popular as Flickr according to the web information company Alexa. GOV.UK is expected to be just as popular, and will deal with everything from how to renew your car tax to offering information on benefits.

With a team located right at the heart of Government, the GDS is located within the Cabinet Office, and aims to produce products that offer a similar experience to those offered by commercial giants like Google. This summer GDS released the ten digital design commandements, that are to guide all of their products design, and the new site is a great example of these principles in use. Stripping back all unnecessary distractions, including images and colour (out with the orange), GOV.UK offers a simple and clear user journey.

This is clarity is compacted via the use of an updated Transport typeface, that you’ll be familiar with as it’s been in use on our transport system since 1967. The use of New Transport, which was tweaked by original designer Margaret Calvert, offers a clear, familiar and simple web font, that aides the users journey.

You maybe wondering why any of this matters, but as the executive director of GDS Mike Bracken explains the overhaul is a much needed and long-overdue step forward: “From here on, the future is driven by user needs. We will migrate major departments onto the platform in the following months, with hundreds of agencies to follow over the next 18 months. And our upcoming Government Digital Strategy will address the urgent need to redesign our mainstream transactions. At the heart of GOV.UK is a willingness to listen, to react and improve our services, and a desire to collaborate with our users who, after all, fund our services. In short, we will react like public servants, by placing user need at the heart of conversation. That’s why GOV.UK matters”.