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GOV.UK updates digital service standards

The GOV.UK team has updated established protocols that serve as the foundation for ensuring government digital teams provide high-quality citizen services.

By GovFresh · May 29, 2015

The GOV.UK team has updated established protocols that serve as the foundation for ensuring government digital teams provide high-quality citizen services.

Effective June 1, the refined Digital Service Standard pares down the number of points from 26 to 18 with a focus on user-centered design, open technologies, agile development practices and stronger emphasis on assisted digital support.

The standard is somewhat similar to the U.S. federal Digital Services Playbook and its 13 “plays” created to “help government build effective digital services.” The difference between the two being UK’s standard is a requisite, whereas the U.S. version is simply a guidance for best practices.

“A transactional service must meet each criteria to pass the Government Digital Service assessment,” GOV.UK states in the update. ”If a service doesn’t pass it won’t appear on GOV.UK.”

Updated points:

  1. Understand user needs. Research to develop a deep knowledge of who the service users are and what that means for the design of the service.
  2. Put a plan in place for ongoing user research and usability testing to continuously seek feedback from users to improve the service.
  3. Put in place a sustainable multidisciplinary team that can design, build and operate the service, led by a suitably skilled and senior service manager with decision-making responsibility.
  4. Build the service using the agile, iterative and user-centred methods set out in the manual.
  5. Build a service that can be iterated and improved on a frequent basis and make sure that you have the capacity, resources and technical flexibility to do so.
  6. Evaluate what tools and systems will be used to build, host, operate and measure the service, and how to procure them.
  7. Evaluate what user data and information the digital service will be providing or storing, and address the security level, legal responsibilities, privacy issues and risks associated with the service (consulting with experts where appropriate).
  8. Make all new source code open and reusable, and publish it under appropriate licences (or provide a convincing explanation as to why this cannot be done for specific subsets of the source code).
  9. Use open standards and common government platforms where available.
  10. Be able to test the end-to-end service in an environment identical to that of the live version, including on all common browsers and devices, and using dummy accounts and a representative sample of users.
  11. Make a plan for the event of the digital service being taken temporarily offline.
  12. Create a service that is simple and intuitive enough that users succeed first time.
  13. Build a service consistent with the user experience of the rest of GOV.UK including using the design patterns and style guide.
  14. Encourage all users to use the digital service (with assisted digital support if required), alongside an appropriate plan to phase out non-digital channels/services.
  15. Use tools for analysis that collect performance data. Use this data to analyse the success of the service and to translate this into features and tasks for the next phase of development.
  16. Identify performance indicators for the service, including the 4 mandatory key performance indicators (KPIs) defined in the manual. Establish a benchmark for each metric and make a plan to enable improvements.
  17. Report performance data on the Performance Platform.
  18. Test the service from beginning to end with the minister responsible for it.