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This week at GDS

Mike Beaven gives the latest news on the Transformation programme work going on at the Home Office, Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and DWP (Department for Work & Pensions). Lots of GDS people are speaking at events this week, including Structure Europe, EPIC2013, Monitorama and Webexpo, and on Thursday Richard Perez, Director of the 2014 World Design Capital Cape Town, will be visiting us at Aviation House. Read more

Visiting Leicester Pension Service

Last week, Mark McLeod, Richard Smith and I visited Leicester Pension Service. We wanted to see first-hand how a major transactional government service operates, hear from front-line staff, and find out more about the needs of older users (who are more likely to be offline).

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Latest data on government transactions

Today, we’ve released an updated version of the Transactions Explorer, our tool for publishing performance data for the government’s transactional services.

Our list has expanded to include over 700 services, from 17 government departments. For 83 of the biggest services, we’ve published additional data on costs and digital take-up; we also have more data for some of the ‘exemplar’ services now being redesigned and rebuilt. Read more

Notes from dConstruct 2013

Last week, several members of the GDS team decamped to the south coast for the Brighton Digital Festival, in particular to the one-day conference dConstruct. Now in its ninth year, it’s gained quite a reputation for giving brilliant speakers a chance to deliver thought-provoking, insightful talks about a vast range of digital and non-digital stuff (mind you, I would say that; I spoke at it in 2011).

I took a couple of days off to attend this year’s conference – and sister conference Improving Reality – to look at our work at GDS through a slightly different lens. Read more

Comparing transactions, step by step

For almost the first time, we are using conversion funnel data to improve government transactions. The comparisons between services are fascinating.

When you are browsing books on Amazon, the pages are full of links. Want to see a bigger picture of the cover? Click on the thumbnail. What do other people think of this book? There are pages of reviews to explore. More from this author? Just click on her name.

The second you Proceed to Checkout however: everything disappears. The picture of the book cover is removed, even the Amazon logo no longer links back to their homepage. The only thing you can click is the nice friendly button labelled ‘Continue.’

Amazon browsing (top) vs Amazon checkout (bottom)

Amazon browsing (top) vs Amazon checkout (bottom)

At this stage, Amazon just want to get you through the necessary steps to complete the sale. The statistics of how many people make it from one step to the next is called the conversion funnel. Read more

Talking accessibility at ustwo

Back in May of this year I tweeted about how impressed I was that London-based agency ustwo had released an update to their “Pixel Perfect Precision” handbook, which included a new section on accessibility.

The handbook, written so that new members of their team can quickly get up to speed on how they’re expected to work, was notable in that it pushed accessibility as a skill designers and developers should be giving consideration to. That it does so in such an open and inviting way is a great thing.

As the Accessibility Lead for the GDS I spend my time sharing that view; across the GDS, and across wider government, and the web community. I was contacted by ustwo and invited to go and speak to their designers and front-end developers about my role in the GDS, how we work, and the kinds of things that accessibility here encompasses.

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Opening up open standards

Last night GDS hosted the first in a series of events to increase awareness, and participation in, the open standards process. It was held at  The Hub, a venue in Kings’ Cross. We want your help to identify the specific open standards that will most benefit users of government technology and services.

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Introducing GOV.UK blogs

Blogging makes it easier for government to talk about its work, share information and ideas, and connect with those with a common concern.

A few months ago, we launched the new GOV.UK blogging platform – which is designed to help people from within government blog as easily and cost-effectively as possible.

It’s a space which any government organisation can use to write about what they’re up to, or to develop practice or theory in a particular field.

We thought we’d tell you a bit more about the platform and the blogs already on it – and, if you’re reading this from within government, help you think about whether it’s the right space for you.

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This week at GDS

Mike Beaven talks the report Smaller, Better, Faster, Stronger: Remaking government for the digital age, an upcoming Digital Advisory Board meeting, Thursday’s Open Standards event, and more.

Read the full transcript.