Set up in 2012, the gov.uk website covers 25 of the UK’s ministerial departments as well as nearly 400 other agencies and associated public bodies. Through this digital service, British citizens can do many of their government-related paperwork online without queuing in offices or spending hours on the phone. The website is extremely simple to navigate with easy-to-understand headings, sidebars referring citizens to the department they require and a search tool to help them with other pages or related services.
One of the key ways that gov.uk has tried to help improve the online services available is to use citizen research to analyse the user experience. This has been part of a broader policy to make the workings of government more open to the public. Such a policy includes the availability of data under a Freedom of Information request. The information collected will be of value for a number of different groups such as:
- Government service managers (to look at ways to improve their own department).
- Interested UK citizens and residents.
In order to make it easier to see the performance of different departments or services at a glance, 384 dashboards have been set up (out of the 780 services available via the gov.uk site). These dashboards cover the vast majority of the most common services requested by British citizens and were responsible for over a billion different online transactions last year. In this analysis of the user experience, the dashboard evaluates performance using a number of different criteria:
- Cost per transaction.
- User satisfaction (a percentage rating awarded by users with all data supplied completely anonymously).
- The completion rate.
- The digital take-up rate (the number of online transactions compared to transactions carried out by post/phone).
Let’s take the example of the vehicle tax renewals which is a service offered by the Department of Transport. From October 2016-September 2017, there were over 47 million digital transactions. This had a total cost of £51.8 million or approximately £1.10 per transaction. The completion rate was 60%, the digital take-up rate was 84.1% while the user satisfaction rate was 93.4%.
Apart from carrying out transactions, the gov.uk website is used by millions of people to search for information about thousands of issues from their eligibility to state benefits to the documents needed to travel abroad. The language used on these pages of information is deliberately kept simple enough for laypeople to understand without problems.
Through the gov.uk website British citizens can also refer to thousands of public announcements, published research papers, official statistics and consultations. These papers don’t only refer to the work of government bodies but also by independent autonomous bodies such as the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). This organisation has been responsible for regulating and overseeing any firm offering consumer financial products or services from credit cards to short-term loans since 2014. Borrowers must never take out a short term loan unless it’s from a reputable company which is authorised by the FCA.