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GDS moves all government websites to Gov.uk

GDS hails end of "government white noise" with completion of 15-month project

All government websites now run on Gov.uk, the Cabinet Office confirmed today.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has closed 685 website domains and subdomains in the process of moving 312 agencies and government organisations over to share one domain, Gov.uk.

It took the GDS 15 months to shift the websites over, publishing more than 150,000 pages on Gov.uk and introducing 1.8 million redirects from the relic websites to those new pages.

The last website to move across was that of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, which completed its transition today.

GDS transition manager Mark Hazelby wrote in a blog post announcing the news: "Every piece of content that has been created on Gov.uk as a result of the arms-length bodies transition now meets a specific user need.

"Getting agencies to think and write in terms of user needs has revolutionised the way digital and policy teams across government use the web.

"The result is that government now answers user needs with concise, correct and current information that is constantly reviewed and iterated to improve the user experience.

"It's also better written, structured and presented than ever."

The idea of one central domain for government services was put forward by then digital champion' Martha Lane Fox, who in 2010 conducted a review of Directgov, the government's digital service at the time.

She wrote to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude to recommend a rethink, writing: "Digital services are now more agile, open and cheaper. To take advantage of these changes, government needs to move to a 'service culture', putting the needs of citizens ahead of those of departments."

Since the launch of Gov.uk in 2012, the GDS has worked alongside hundreds of digital developers to migrate services over to the new domain.

Results

Hazelby said one result was easier, clearer access to public services, using the example that now a search for climate change uk' in Google brings up the Gov.uk policy and topic pages as the first results, compared to 16 different government websites pre-transition.

"As a citizen, that's powerful stuff and means I'm getting what I want without having to wade through government white noise," he wrote.

Other benefits include a drop in call centre complaints.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) found that call centre volumes fell by 19 per cent, emails decreased 17 per cent and customer visits by 42 per cent following its transition.

Others, like exams regulator Ofqual, which moved over in September, found benefits in the user friendly redesign of content.

Employee Phil McAllister said: "I'm well aware that the end of transition is just the start of our journey. Content that you can find quickly, understand easily and access on any device is a goal that is worth our time and energy. My hope is that in a year's time we'll be questioning why we didn't design our content this way a long time ago."

This is a theme reflected by Companies House, which moved to Gov.uk last week.

Head of IT architecture, Mark Fairhurst, told IT Pro earlier this month: "It looks like every other government website now so we're in that development service standard.

"The idea is to stay on a consistent interface so that every department or service a user visits should look the same."

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