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So how is GOV.UK being received at DH?

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After a few months of increasing our communications to DH colleagues about the move to GOV.UK (which we talked about in an earlier blog), we thought we’d share the feedback we’ve been getting.

In recent weeks, we have done quite a few presentations to policy teams as we are very keen that they understand the impact that this will have on the way their policies are presented, and there is no better way to explain such an enormous change than face-to-face.

By way of basic evaluation, we asked people three questions before and after the presentations, which included getting them to rate their understanding of the GOV.UK project on a scale of either: none, basic, medium or comprehensive.  Thankfully for us, the majority of people went up at least one grade in their understanding after our presentation.  A couple remained the same, and no one actually got so confused that their understanding decreased (phew)!

Some of the positive comments:

“Will there still be an opportunity for two-way communication with audiences, as this still feels very one way?  It’s important that we get real feedback on people regarding policy making – even if it is negative – we still need to hear that”.

I am tempted to use this colleague as a digital policy champion!

“This is a good idea as lots of old content which we often don’t have time to review will be refreshed or replaced…it will help clear out the dross”.

Excellent – this is exactly what we hope to achieve.

“I’m encouraged by the guidelines that they are putting in place for acceptable ‘plain English’ language and words to avoid.  I’m very interested to see the style guide in full”.

We’re working out the best way to roll out the style guide so that it gets used for publications and internal comms too.

And some of the slightly-less-positive comments:

“We’re concerned that people will be confused by ending up on the National Archive site if they are trying to find content that is no longer being updated”.

We do have an extra challenge compared to many departments as some of our content will move to the new NHS Commissioning Board or Public Health England from April 2013. We’re trying to tackle this by working closely with our ALBs and also encouraging policy teams to communicate with all their stakeholders closer to the time.

“Is there a risk that things will be missed?”

There’s always a chance, but we hope to minimise this risk as best we can through engaging policy colleagues early and working closely with them and Government Digital Service (GDS).

“What about the search – will this be better than the current DH search?”

Yes. We have made some improvements to the DH search over recent months but the new search on GOV.UK will allow you to search by publication type and date, creating a more ‘advanced search’ option. If you are interested in finding out more about GDS’s work to improve GOV.UK as it progresses, read their blog here.

We’ve answered these and other questions and concerns as best we can, but there are of course still questions remaining. We have encouraged colleagues to try out the new GOV.UK site as citizens and feed back to GDS if they have comments. There will be a test version of the ‘Inside Gov’ pages available for colleagues to look at in the next couple of months, and we’ll be encouraging everyone at DH to look at this too, as so many of the improvements that GDS have made along the way have been as a direct result of user testing and feedback.

Over the next few months we will present to many more colleagues within DH and will incorporate all the guidance and examples from GDS as we go. We will also continue to feedback questions from within the department to GDS to make this as two-way and transparent as possible.

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