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Just 10 weeks to go until DH moves to GOV.UK

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The countdown has begun. There are now just 10 weeks to go until we switch off and move over to the single government website GOV.UK.

Our scheduled go-live date is Tuesday 26 March and with Christmas behind us it now seems VERY close!

There are 6 government departments already live on GOV.UK including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as some other government bodies like the Driving Standards Agency so we’ve had the opportunity to learn from those who’ve gone before us and have adjusted some of our plans and expectations accordingly.

What we’ve done already

Towards the end of 2012 Rob and Charlotte were working really hard to get round and see all the policy teams at DH to make sure everyone knew what was coming and to identify our single points of contact to make sure we can get quick sign off of content.

This usually took the form of top-level 30 minute presentations with a Q&A and more than 300 people attended in total. Combined with articles on the intranet, manager’s briefings and the staff round-up newsletter we’ll be pretty surprised if anyone claims not to have known it was coming!

What we’re doing now

Right now we’re in the thick of writing new policy pages and have been joined by a couple of guys, Dean and Stephen, who are working with us to review our content. They’re reading through all the existing web copy, comparing it against the priorities in the DH corporate plan, the white papers that have been published since the coalition and more recent publications like the NHS Outcomes Framework.

They are drafting new policy pages to follow the GDS style guide and that follow the same format as the ones that are already live e.g. Giving local authorities more control over how they spend public money in their area.

We also have the extra challenge of feeding in the changes to the health and care system itself where responsibilities for the delivery of some these commitments will, from April, lie with new bodies like the NHS Commissioning Board or Public Health England.

We’ve found that having some fresh eyes on our content has been really useful. They have made really sensible suggestions for how we could groups things together and can whizz through the editing and streamlining of content without any of our years worth of editorial baggage!

What we’re going to do next

As well as policy pages we also have a big job to do with publications and statistics, especially as DH produces so many of both. As part of our preparations for this project we audited our publications, archived a lot of old content like bulletins, but still found that we had 12,000 publications, 1,500 of which were published since the start of the coalition. Read Rob’s post from October 2012 about our preparations for migration.

The job of tidying these up into publication series and categorising them to GDS’s publication types (which are pretty consistent with what we currently have) will start in the next few days and it’s slightly daunting! We have good stats to work from though, and have done everything we can to manage the quality of our publications content over the last year,  so we’ll start with the biggest hitters in terms of current policy priorities and pageviews and work our way down the list as quickly as we can.

Despite the huge amount of work we know we still have to do we’re really excited about some of the new features on GOV.UK that our website users don’t currently have, such as the email alerts for every policy and topic , and the more advanced publications search. We’ve also started talking about how features like topical events could work for health once the rest of the government, including some of our arm’s length bodies, is also live on GOV.UK.

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