Gov.uk will act as a single domain for central government, replacing Directgov and hundreds of citizens advice pages on departmental websites.
The initiative is the product of a report by Government-appointed ‘UK digital champion’ Martha Lane Fox, who called for government to ‘revolutionise its online government services’ in 2010.
The site design has been led by former Wieden + Kennedy design director Ben Terrett, who was appointed as head of design for Governmet Digital Service in December 2011.
Terrett says the new site ‘will allow people to get in and out very quickly. People might visit a Government site twice a year so there’s no time to be familiar with navigation.’
With ‘the main focus on the user’ information is being made more findable, understandable and actionable, says Terrett.
VAT for example, can be searched so that the most popular question, ‘How much is VAT?’ is answered first, prioritised above other VAT information.
Around 2000 users have already tested the site, according to Terrett, who will work through three stages of beta.
The first Beta launched yesterday and is a public test of the site, delivering citizen-facing aspects of gov.uk.
A second private beta phase will test a shared gov.uk corporate publishing platform, aiming to replace most of the activity currently hosted on departmental publishing environments. This is expected to happen by the end of the month.
Then in March, a first draft of a gov.uk ‘global experience language’ will look to provide consistent design, user-experience and brand guidelines for anyone going on to develop sites for the single gov.uk domain.