We've been rationalising government websites for almost as long as I can remember. But there are still lots of government websites, and at the Department of Health we're responsible for our fair share.
Last year, in the spirit of transparency, we published a list of all the website domains that DH is responsible for (excluding NHS websites). Changes to the Department and our public bodies have had an impact on this list, but we've closed more than 200 sites and inherited others, and we're now left with 75 open sites. We're committed to only retaining 4 of these domains beyond the transition that we're now going through at DH.
The public announcements this week about a single domain for government will take this process "to it's logical conclusion". I'm not part of the inner circle that have been working on this, but I am excited by what I've heard.
In every job I've had in government digital comms, it's seemed like a sensible thing to do to work towards a simpler, more integrated approach to managing web content. We know that we can't justify spending effort and money on multiple contracts with suppliers to provide lots of different websites in different ways. And we know that it's not helpful to have conflicting sources of government information or a confused user experience. So I welcome any acceleration of this process, or indeed a revolution.
But to do any of this we will need a different approach to creating, publishing and managing digital content at source. We've been thinking about how to do this within DH, and we've got some ideas for things we can do now to vastly simplify and improve our digital offer.
We hope that, with a more efficient digital offer, we will be able to spend less time worrying about managing our websites, and more time thinking about how to do genuinely useful digital engagement. Any change we make now of course, will have to be with a single domain in mind.
I'll post more in a bit about what we're planning to do.