A few weeks ago Sarah Richards and Ben Terrett visited the Government Security Secretariat (GSS) to talk about copywriting and the GOV.UK style guide. We asked Ben Aung from GSS to write about the visit and the work it has inspired.
The Government Security Secretariat within the Cabinet Office sets the security policies for government, these policies cover the how and why of protecting our people, information and buildings. I’ve been a member of the policy team for just over a year and am currently leading a refresh of the catchily-titled HMG Security Policy Framework. This is the body of documents that deals with everything from the type of locks we put on our doors to much broader issues such as counter-terrorism and cyber security. (more…)
Several GOV.UK makers have given the team advice, covering everything from department directory data to the entire GOV.UK scope (well done Ross Ferguson and Lisa Scott for summarising this in a couple of paragraphs!). The NZ team have also scoured our blog, the Government Digital Strategy, the Government Service Design Manual, and any other bits of guidance we could provide. They’ve researched the strategies behind government sites around the world, and GDS gets a special mention on their preview site.
The most obvious GOV.UK influence is on the design – and with GDS’s policy of coding in the open they were able to use our front-end code. Recycling our work has enabled them to save huge amounts of time, and a considerable amount of money. Initial user research revealed that 70% of people like the design or have a neutral opinion, which is a great result for a new release.
We’re looking forward to sharing more work and user-feedback in the future, so we can improve sites for citizens in New Zealand and in Britain.
A few months ago Ben Terrett, Russell Davies and I were asked to give a brief to Goldsmiths BA Design course. Matt Ward, the programme leader, contacted us to give the students an opportunity to work on a ‘real life’ brief – something hugely valuable to both them and to us.
Four of the class presented their projects on digital by default and assisted digital to GDS a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to share the results so you can see three totally different takes on the subject.
This comes with a big disclaimer: these are the ideas of some talented design students, not the plans of the government. There are reasons why these ideas might not be appropriate in their current form. But the value for me was in hearing ideas from people who aren’t constrained by what might be pragmatic (or palatable) for government!
One of the updates we’ve made to the Government Service Design Manual is to add video case studies. Video has been one of the best methods we’ve found for quickly and candidly sharing what it’s like to work on a digital service.
Most of them take the form of short interviews with staff from GDS (and beyond) about what it is they do, like this one from Sarah Richards about the purpose of an Alpha…
The first thing you see when you walk into GDS is the 7 main messages which guided the build of the GOV.UK alpha. Visitors to GDS often scribble them down, and like our Design Principles they help provide a shared language for people inside and outside government.
They’re also really useful points to keep in mind as we build a community around the exemplar services and the new service manual.
One of the questions publishers in government departments are asking us a lot at the moment is “Can I embed [insert name of web app here] on GOV.UK?”
In the spirit of “publish, don’t send” this blog post sets out our answer.
The good news (and tl;dr version) is that we are planning to make sure departments can continue to meet the user needs that they have met – up to now – by embedding widgets, apps and badges on their sites. But we almost certainly won’t be meeting those needs by allowing publishers to embed 3rd party code freely on the main GOV.UK platform.
Read on to find out why, and what we’ll be doing instead. (more…)
GOV.UK provides government with several ways to promote and support its marketing campaigns. I wanted to give you a bit of background on what the guidelines are, and how they’re being used.
Departments’ Digital Strategies showed how far the impact of digital has been within government. For the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the addition of social media tools to the diplomatic arena will be incredibly important, as Chief Digital Officer Alison Daniels explains.
Like many organisations the FCO’s communications teams are well versed in the opportunities social media provides, from distributing and amplifying consular messages to British nationals, to engaging audiences on tough foreign policy issues, to using digital channels to seek views as we formulate policy.
It’s been some months since GDS published our social media guidance for Civil Servants, and there’s been lots of interest across the civil service (and beyond) in the idea of social in government. We’ve had queries from other countries too about our approach, and I recently Skyped into a conference that the Dutch Government were hosting to talk how they approach social media and what they might learn from the UK.
There, and in our work across government, it’s clear there’s still a lot of work to do to represent the benefits of social media. Metrics and measurement are a particularly thorny issue, as colleagues are asked to make business cases for the use of social media. (more…)