GOV.UK, user needs and
communicating at scale
Neil William
Product Manager, GOV.UK
Government Digital Service
Cabinet Offi...
1. GOV.UK

@neillyneil

GDS
1. GOV.UK
2. User needs

@neillyneil

GDS
1. GOV.UK
2. User needs
3. Communicating
at scale
@neillyneil

GDS
1. GOV.UK

@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
1. GOV.UK
2. User needs

@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
As a __________________
I need to ______________
So that ________________
@neillyneil

GDS
43rd
most
visited
site by
UK web
users
@neillyneil

GDS
www.gov.uk/performance

@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
How government works
What government is doing
How to get involved

@neillyneil

GDS
www.gov.uk/performance

@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
Departments and policy
70,000 published pages
1,000 publishers*
145 new/updated pages per day
* and thousands more joining...
@neillyneil

GDS
As a user interested in
government activity relating to
[policy/topic/organisation X]
I need to read relevant
ministerial ...
No such thing as a ‘general
page’ on GOV.UK
@neillyneil

GDS
45,000 content items
migrated
92,000 content items
archived
@neillyneil

GDS
1. GOV.UK
2. User needs
3. Communicating
at scale
@neillyneil

GDS
1. Collaboration
2. Notification

@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
“What is the government’s
policy on Afghanistan?”

@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
1. Collaboration
2. Notification

@neillyneil

GDS
As a user interested in government
activity relating to
[policy/topic/organisation X],
I need to get emails notifying me
a...
Interest in a
whole
organisation

@neillyneil

GDS
Interest in a
whole topic

@neillyneil

GDS
Interest in a
specific
policy

@neillyneil

GDS
Interest in a
specific
combination
of format,
topic and
organisation
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
All consultations
about borders and
immigration from
Home Office
@neillyneil

GDS
All consultations about
borders and immigration
from Home Office relevant
to local authorities

@neillyneil

GDS
Country specific travel
advice
(eg 16 alerts sent about
Philippines following
Typhoon Haiyan)

@neillyneil

GDS
7,415 topic lists
250,000 subscribers
(>2m subscriptions)
20-30m messages/month
6th top referrer to GOV.UK
@neillyneil

GD...
15%
immediate
85%
weekly or
daily digest

@neillyneil

GDS
How do we know if
we’re meeting users’
needs?
@neillyneil

GDS
As a user interested in
government activity relating to
[policy/topic/organisation X],
I need to get emails notifying
me a...
(that‘s a government need,
not a user need)
@neillyneil

GDS
....it’s just very annoying

@neillyneil

GDS
...so our aim is to provide
a useful service, by
helping the people who
want email alerts to get
Exactly the emails they
n...
Future plans:

•Measure and iterate

•Better designs for email output

@neillyneil

GDS
User needs +
collaboration
+ notification
=
better signal to noise
ratio
@neillyneil

GDS
@neillyneil

GDS
Neil Williams
Product Manager,
GOV.UK
Government Digital Service
@neillyneil
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Gov delivery nov_2013

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  • I’m NW, one of a handful of PMs at GDS, CO
  • I’m going to talk to you about 3 things
    1. GOV.UK
  • 2. User needs, and how focusing on user needs is essential to build effective web products
  • Third, a bit about what it means to have all this content in a single domain and how we help users make sense of that
  • I’m going to talk to you about 3 things
    1. GOV.UK
  • Well I’m guessing based on profile of the people in the room, most of you’ve probably seen it
    But for the benefit of people in the room who are less familiar,
    I’m going to start with a video which MB recently took to the Cabinet
    Not been shown outside GDS before, so this is a bit of an exclusive
    (Pick your fave cabinet member and pretend to be him or her)
  • ...
    So that’s what your nation’s leaders watched a few Tuesdays ago
    And by all accounts it went down a storm, with much banging of tables
  • Mike went on to talk about the other things GDS is doing
    Because GOV.UK is a small part of what came out of Martha’s original report, revolution not evolution, in 2010
    GOV.UK is about fixing publishing, we’re also fixing transactions
    Starting with 25 of the 50 most used online services from government
  • But GOV.UK is our most obvious and best known output
    It’s also our most mature product
    Been live for a year - we just celebrated its first birthday on October 17th
  • And it’s won government some prestigious awards, which you may have read about
    Most notably the Design of the Year award, beating the Shard and Olympic Cauldron
  • The Mail kindly wrote this up as “boring.com”
    But that’s precisely the point - we didn’t win the design award for making something pretty
    We won it for making something useful
  • 2. User needs, and how focusing on user needs is essential to build effective web products
  • As you heard on the video earlier on, everything we do at GDS starts with needs.
    These are our design principles, for building digital product.
    But actually they stand as a set of principles for any product or service.
    I urge you to go and look at them. Search on gov.uk for design principles.
  • And look, top of the list: start with needs.
    Simply, you can’t make a useful product without knowing what users need.
    “People come to our sites to accomplish tasks and to fulfil needs, not just to hang out”.
    Users don’t come to government websites for a giggle and a browse around.
    Putting things there that you want them to do is naive and a waste of time.
    We built GOV.UK around needs, and iterate it around meeting those needs.
  • This is the standard way we articulate user needs for GOV.UK
    Using the format of a “user story”.
    As a - type of person / I need to - perform a task / So that - I can achieve an outcome
    Applies both to content and software.
    Really powerful - makes sure everyone is clear who the users is, what they need and why
  • And we have a lot of users, with a lot of needs.
    GOV.UK is the 43rd most visited site by UK web users
    Behind things like Google and Bing, BBC sites, Amazon, Yahoo, banks
  • Which means we’re handling around 6.5m uniques a week
    (You can see this yourself at the URL)
  • Majority of those users are coming to do the same things, week in week out
    3,000 mainstream services and information needed by masses of citizens or businesses
    This is one example, you saw it in the video.
    We’ve mapped out the individual needs for each of these and we measure our performance based on how well we are meeting those needs
  • A smaller proportion of users are coming for information about how government works, and what government is saying and doing, which they’ll find in the departments and policies section.
    This is the bit of the site I look after, and I suspect the bit that people in this room are most interested in, so I’m going to talk about it in more detail.
  • This is the proposition of the D&P section - at a high level, the needs it seeks to meet
    How central gov works, what it’s doing and how to get involved.
    It’s a conversation - it’s the place for interaction between state and citizens/stakeholders/users
  • As such, fewer users
    It’s still for everyone from curious citizens through to engaged stakeholders and professionals
    It’s visited by 1.5m people a week, about 20% of the overall site traffic.
    It occasionally peaks to more than mainstream, eg HS2 consultation
  • And those numbers are climbing, as more organisations move to GOV.UK
  • If you change the axis to scale up and show a comparison you can see more clearly
    services and info remains steady
    Depts and policy is growing rapidly in line with transition of govt orgs into the site.
  • And that traffic is spread over a great many more pages
    D&P is government’s very very long tail, with 145 updates per day
    and we’re a third of the way through moving orgs onto it, so this will go up
    We have a lot of different users, looking at a lot of different things every day for different reasons.
    Which means there are a lot of user needs.
  • So whereas we track individual, specific needs per page for mainstream services and info.
    In the long tail of content from departments and policy, we articulate the user need in this way.
    A given person’s need can be thought of as a combination of the subject matter and the format.
  • For example, this.
    A specific interest in a given area of govt work
    Met by a specific format which delivers a defined outcome - in this case, speeches, but could be publication, stats, consultation
  • Firstly we’ve made it impossible to create page after page of nested “general” content.
    You can only create the things users need from government.
  • Using those principles we got rid of more than double the amount of content we brought across in the first wave of moving websites onto GOV.UK, for the 24 ministerial departments.
  • Third, a bit about what it means to have all this content in a single domain and how we help users make sense of that
  • The two ways we make this work are
    collaborating around meeting user needs
    notifications to meet user need
  • GOV.UK is helping to drive collaboration across government to produce content in a more user-centric way
    So while previously you had to check separate domains, now you can look up what’s happening in one place, by organisation
  • And you can also look it up by topic - you don’t need to know which orgs first
    Organisations are collaborating on managing these topic pages, to provide a joined up view of activity across government around each policy area
  • And previously, if you wanted to know what the UK government’s policy goals were about a given subject eg Afghanistan
  • Now you only have to visit one page
    Producing this page involved lots of people talking to each other and co-authoring this page
  • GDS co-ordinated the production of 223 policies in this way
    As a consequence, many more people talking to each other now
  • And those 1000 publishers are all using a single shared publishing system, built for collaboration and co-authoring
    to better meet end user needs
  • And writing using a consistent tone and language and structure to make sure the user gets and understand what they came for.
    Go and read it.
  • Develop the software collaboratively and openly
    Anyone can see this backlog
    Anyone can suggest feature ideas
  • And a community, who we communicate with via our blog.
    Users and publishers. Feedback on our work.
    Much room for improvement - working with depts and agencies to improve content quality
  • Another user need for communications at scale is notification when things change
  • ...but it does validate the need for the service
  • We want to send less email
  • By focusing on user needs, and encouraging content producers to combine their content, we can improve the signal to noise ratio.
  • Gov delivery nov_2013

    1. 1. GOV.UK, user needs and communicating at scale Neil William Product Manager, GOV.UK Government Digital Service Cabinet Office @neillyneil
    2. 2. 1. GOV.UK @neillyneil GDS
    3. 3. 1. GOV.UK 2. User needs @neillyneil GDS
    4. 4. 1. GOV.UK 2. User needs 3. Communicating at scale @neillyneil GDS
    5. 5. 1. GOV.UK @neillyneil GDS
    6. 6. @neillyneil GDS
    7. 7. @neillyneil GDS
    8. 8. @neillyneil GDS
    9. 9. @neillyneil GDS
    10. 10. @neillyneil GDS
    11. 11. @neillyneil GDS
    12. 12. 1. GOV.UK 2. User needs @neillyneil GDS
    13. 13. @neillyneil GDS
    14. 14. @neillyneil GDS
    15. 15. As a __________________ I need to ______________ So that ________________ @neillyneil GDS
    16. 16. 43rd most visited site by UK web users @neillyneil GDS
    17. 17. www.gov.uk/performance @neillyneil GDS
    18. 18. @neillyneil GDS
    19. 19. @neillyneil GDS
    20. 20. How government works What government is doing How to get involved @neillyneil GDS
    21. 21. www.gov.uk/performance @neillyneil GDS
    22. 22. @neillyneil GDS
    23. 23. @neillyneil GDS
    24. 24. Departments and policy 70,000 published pages 1,000 publishers* 145 new/updated pages per day * and thousands more joining soon @neillyneil GDS
    25. 25. @neillyneil GDS
    26. 26. As a user interested in government activity relating to [policy/topic/organisation X] I need to read relevant ministerial speeches, So that I know the latest position and can see what’s been issued as public record @neillyneil GDS
    27. 27. No such thing as a ‘general page’ on GOV.UK @neillyneil GDS
    28. 28. 45,000 content items migrated 92,000 content items archived @neillyneil GDS
    29. 29. 1. GOV.UK 2. User needs 3. Communicating at scale @neillyneil GDS
    30. 30. 1. Collaboration 2. Notification @neillyneil GDS
    31. 31. @neillyneil GDS
    32. 32. @neillyneil GDS
    33. 33. “What is the government’s policy on Afghanistan?” @neillyneil GDS
    34. 34. @neillyneil GDS
    35. 35. @neillyneil GDS
    36. 36. @neillyneil GDS
    37. 37. @neillyneil GDS
    38. 38. @neillyneil GDS
    39. 39. @neillyneil GDS
    40. 40. @neillyneil GDS
    41. 41. @neillyneil GDS
    42. 42. @neillyneil GDS
    43. 43. @neillyneil GDS
    44. 44. @neillyneil GDS
    45. 45. @neillyneil GDS
    46. 46. @neillyneil GDS
    47. 47. @neillyneil GDS
    48. 48. @neillyneil GDS
    49. 49. @neillyneil GDS
    50. 50. 1. Collaboration 2. Notification @neillyneil GDS
    51. 51. As a user interested in government activity relating to [policy/topic/organisation X], I need to get emails notifying me about new or updated content relevant to my interests, So that I don’t have to keep checking the website @neillyneil GDS
    52. 52. Interest in a whole organisation @neillyneil GDS
    53. 53. Interest in a whole topic @neillyneil GDS
    54. 54. Interest in a specific policy @neillyneil GDS
    55. 55. Interest in a specific combination of format, topic and organisation @neillyneil GDS
    56. 56. @neillyneil GDS
    57. 57. @neillyneil GDS
    58. 58. @neillyneil GDS
    59. 59. All consultations about borders and immigration from Home Office @neillyneil GDS
    60. 60. All consultations about borders and immigration from Home Office relevant to local authorities @neillyneil GDS
    61. 61. Country specific travel advice (eg 16 alerts sent about Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan) @neillyneil GDS
    62. 62. 7,415 topic lists 250,000 subscribers (>2m subscriptions) 20-30m messages/month 6th top referrer to GOV.UK @neillyneil GDS
    63. 63. 15% immediate 85% weekly or daily digest @neillyneil GDS
    64. 64. How do we know if we’re meeting users’ needs? @neillyneil GDS
    65. 65. As a user interested in government activity relating to [policy/topic/organisation X], I need to get emails notifying me about new or updated content relevant to my interests, So that I don’t have to keep checking the website @neillyneil GDS
    66. 66. (that‘s a government need, not a user need) @neillyneil GDS
    67. 67. ....it’s just very annoying @neillyneil GDS
    68. 68. ...so our aim is to provide a useful service, by helping the people who want email alerts to get Exactly the emails they need and no more @neillyneil GDS
    69. 69. Future plans: •Measure and iterate •Better designs for email output @neillyneil GDS
    70. 70. User needs + collaboration + notification = better signal to noise ratio @neillyneil GDS
    71. 71. @neillyneil GDS
    72. 72. Neil Williams Product Manager, GOV.UK Government Digital Service @neillyneil
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