The Government Digital Service has said it will use “more robust metrics” for GOV.UK as its 2017-18 roadmap reveals plans to improve email subscription, content search and user journeys.
The GOV.UK roadmap, which product manager Jennifer Allum said would “stretch” the team, sets out four main objectives to improve the single government domain and make it “work harder for users”.
Allum emphasised that there was more flexibility built into the roadmap this year, so GDS could change direction if needed. “Time is fixed, scope can be trimmed,” she said, adding that teams would have more autonomy in what to work on first so they could pick the most useful things.
The team will also use “more robust metrics” to assess progress against the roadmap, and focus on building sustainably to reduce technical debt, which is where early design choices lead to extra effort in the future.
The four areas in the 2017-18 roadmap cover user journeys, the basics of the platform, accountability and GOV.UK content.
The latter point will include efforts to group and transform content available on GOV.UK, after a recent analysis revealed that there are more than 300,000 items of content across GOV.UK, with around 2,500 added each week.
The head of GOV.UK Neil Williams has previously said that many existing pages are “seldom if ever updated”, which makes it hard for users – both public and government – to find what they need.
The 2017-18 plan will expand on a trial carried out on education-related content, which has created a new taxonomy for the content available and aims to help identify duplications and overlaps.
Allum said that the next phase of work would involve three big content themes in the 2017-18 year, with the aim of completing all major themes by 2020.
These content theme missions will help departments better understand their content and then make changes to the way their content team works.
The new taxonomies created will also be used to help GOV.UK improve its email subscription service, which a 2016 discovery found was not meeting user needs well.
Further improvements to the platform basics will be to rebuild the worldwide publishing section on GOV.UK – which was not migrated to the new publishing platform after it was deemed not to be meeting user needs – and the service that helps people find information on licences.
Allum also said there would be continued work to make GOV.UK’s frontend architecture easier to maintain, following on from the news in December last year that GDS plans to cut the number of frontend templates on GOV.UK from 140 down to 10.
Meanwhile, Allum set out plans to make common user journeys better – based on the 10 tasks that GDS uses to benchmark them – and improve GOV.UK’s site search, saying it would be “unwise” to wait longer to improve such a fundamental part of GOV.UK.
The final strand of the work focuses on allowing the public to hold government to account. “It should be easy to see how and what government is changing,” said Allum, adding that the first stage would be a discovery on how to allow people to scrutinise government work.
The roadmap is designed to fit in with the government transformation strategy, which was published last week with an over-arching aim for GOV.UK of “overhauling government’s legacy content and outdated publishing practices by 2020”.