The Government Digital Service’s GOV.UK taxonomy has entered beta for education content, with plans to develop branches for environment and transport content next.
There are more than 300,000 items of content across GOV.UK, with around 2,500 added each week, and GDS has acknowledged that it is often hard for users – both in and outside government – to find what they are looking for.
In addition, users that need to see everything about a specific topic – for instance teachers or accountants – will only get partial information without a better system.
GOV.UK Notify goes live for central government, with local government to launch this year
GOV.UK roadmap for 2017-18 aims for flexibility of scope and more robust metrics
Unlocking the power of big data
To address the issue, GDS has been working on a subject-based taxonomy for content that aims to identify duplications and overlaps, as well as making it easier for users to navigate.
“When finished, the taxonomy will group together all content on the site in a meaningful and intuitive way, using a hierarchical structure,” said Graeme Claridge. “It will consist of many ‘topics’ and ‘subtopics’, to which all content items will be tagged.”
The service began work on education-related content, devising tags – such as ‘early years funding’ or ‘phonics’ – and using them to create a new navigation.
This navigation has now gone into beta, and the team plans to launch a parenting and childcare branch to sit alongside the education taxonomy in the next few weeks.
In the longer-term, Claridge said that the next step was to develop new branches of taxonomy for environment content and then transport.
“The education team has shared learnings, processes and even staff with this fledgling team, to ensure we continue to do what’s worked well, and review and revise what was less successful,” he said.
The 2017-18 GOV.UK roadmap said that there would be three content themes this year, with the aim of completing all major themes by 2020.
That document also said that the new taxonomies would be used to help GOV.UK improve its email subscription service, which a 2016 discovery found was not meeting user needs well.