Last May, we reported on the UK government’s AlphaGov website, which was its attempt to centralise all its online information within a single domain. The Alphagov.co.uk website launched on May 11th, with its introductory gambit saying:
“Alpha.gov.uk is an experimental prototype of a single UK Government website. It aims to be as simple as possible, and to place the needs of citizens first.”
Today, the government’s single-domain project sheds its alpha tag and hits beta, launching at a simple gov.uk domain. But it’s still mindful that this is still in beta mode and there could be errors on the site. When you first hit the site, you’ll see this warning message:
“Welcome to GOV.UK, an experimental trial (‘beta’) replacement for Directgov and the first step towards a single government website.
PLEASE BE AWARE – this is a test website. It may contain inaccuracies or be misleading. Directgov remains the official website for government information and services.
Your suggestions will help us make this site better, so if you have any comments please leave us feedback.”
Just to give you a little context to this project, the government has hundreds of different websites, from the DVLA to HMRC, which is why any search you’re likely to make will probably begin with Google. From here, you may be directed to an official Government portal, or a third party website which just happens to have found its way to number-one spot for your search terms.
Gov.uk is a welcome move by the government, and if it can pull it off and launch a single, comprehensive portal, then it should prove popular.
Once you click to confirm that you understand that this is a beta project, you are presented with a number of options. You can browser by category, or you can carry out a search.
The search is predictive too. As soon as I started typing ‘self-assessment’, I was given the correct option by the end of the first few letters. Upon clicking the option, I was given this:
From this point on, it simply directs you to the correct website, in this case the HM Revenue and Customs website (HMRC).
As the Telegraph reports, it’s thought the project could save up to £50 million a year from the public purse, simply through creating a single, centralized conduit to all the government’s information. “Our approach is changing,” said Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, noting that it’s trying to end the huge, single contracts that typically cover Government IT. “IT needs to be commissioned or rented, rather than procured in huge, expensive contracts of long duration.”