GDS this week: GOV.UK meets and Digital Services Store now open


This week GDS Head of Content Design Sarah Richards talks about meeting our counterparts from Canada,, and their exciting One Site project, and Josh Russell and Warren Smith explain how the new Digital Services Store will make make it easier for government buyers to work with SMEs (Small-Medium Enterprises).


Breaking barriers and opening doors

Today is the 2013 International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme, “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all”, resonates deeply with me.

My work at the GDS since I became a Civil Servant has been almost entirely focussed on ensuring the work we do is as inclusive as we can make it. People don’t typically choose to interact with government, after all, so we owe it to our users to do as much as we can to ensure they aren’t excluded unnecessarily.

For example, we’ve gone to great lengths across the different projects we work on to ensure that our blind and partially-sighted users can access our services through assistive technologies such as screen readers and screen magnifiers. We’ve worked hard to simplify the language we use so that it’s simpler and clearer to understand. We’ve also tried to make GOV.UK a consistent, responsive platform that is accessible at its heart.

Recently I’ve been working to understand how we can better serve the very diverse needs of our deaf users.

To do this, I’ve been talking with organisations, with colleagues across government,  and with the many thousands of users in Facebook groups such as Pardon? and Spit the Dummy; we wanted to find out first-hand what our deaf users think of the services we provide.

Yesterday I met with Sir Malcolm Bruce in his role as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness to discuss how we might improve access for deaf users, and I’m confident we’ll be able to make a start on meeting the needs of those users soon.

Inclusion is important to me, not just in my Accessibility role here, but as a guiding principle. When it comes to being inclusive, it’s not a matter of providing special access for the disabled; it’s about providing an equivalent experience where we don’t exclude anyone.

For me this work isn’t about disability, it’s about fairness.

We should all strive to make the products and services we build as inclusive as we can. Not simply because of a legal requirement, but as a mark of empathy and respect for our very diverse audience.

Here’s to what we can accomplish in 2014. Onwards!


Opening the doors of the Digital Services Store

A couple of weeks ago, the Digital Services framework went live. Today we’re opening up the Digital Services Store. Buyers in government can browse the suppliers on the framework, and then filter on their capabilities to create a list of companies to approach for delivery of a digital project.

We’re here to help

We’ve put together a buyers guide to help you get started with the service, but we’re also on hand to help you understand what you’re looking for.

If you’ve got a digital project that you need some procurement help with, get in touch with the team: The earlier you get in touch, the more help and guidance we can offer you.

Meanwhile, leave feedback on the store in the comments, or by emailing us at:

GDS this week: Ministry of Justice transformation update

Last week we paid a visit to the Ministry of Justice to find out more about the innovative work going on there to bring legal services online. Kit Collingwood tells us about how great it feels for the Lasting Power of Attorney team to have been nominated for a Civil Service Award; Daniela Tzvetkova talks about the value of open source and how Court Finder has been picked up and re-used by the European courts; and Eliot Fineberg reports on the latest steps in the Civil Claims exemplar’s development from Alpha towards Beta phase.

Follow Daniela Tzvetkova and Eliot Fineberg on Twitter:

Daniela Tzvetkova (Service Manager, Information Services): @daulfn

Eliot Fineberg (Service Manager, Civil Claims): @eliotfineberg


Agile testing at the Home Office

More and more teams across government are getting involved in the transformation programme. We asked Mat Costick to write about his experiences working on an Agile project.

I’m the portfolio test manager for several projects at the Home Office. We’ve recently started to do our testing using Agile techniques; a big change for the team, but one that’s gone very well so far. (more…)

GDS this week: GOV.UK transition update and G-Cloud4

This week we celebrated that we have transitioned more than 100 websites to GOV.UK over the last 12 months; 102 to be exact. Elisse Jones, GOV.UK Departmental Engagement Lead, talks about the challenges of such a big programme of work, while G-Cloud Product Manager Stuart Reeve updates us on the latest iteration of the G-Cloud procurement framework.

Follow Elisse Jones (GOV.UK Departmental Engagement Lead): @ElisseJones