back to article UK govt to KILL OFF Directgov within weeks

New Labour's Directgov is about to be tossed into the rubbish bin, after it was revealed today that Britain's public services website would be replaced by the Cabinet Office's single government domain on 17 October. That project, dubbed GOV.UK, surfaced into public view in May 2011 when Francis Maude's department initially …

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Anonymous Coward

Why?

See title....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

its all to do with the fact that DirectGov was set up by the previous liebour government, now CON(self)Serve- itive are in power, they have to change things to make it look like they are doing something different to the last bunch of clowns!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Funny compound words

You know, I think you'd be more credible if your writing style didn't sound like a collection of headlines from The Sun.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Funny compound words

Additionally DirectGov is an abortion of a site, a pure navigation nightmare.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

"they have to change things to make it look like they are doing something different to the last bunch of clowns!!"

I've been noticing this pattern too. Every new government spends more time undoing stuff done by the previous government than actually doing anything they said they would.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Funny compound words

"Additionally DirectGov is an abortion of a site, a pure navigation nightmare."

THIS. A thousand times this.

Anyone who thinks scrapping the DirectGov site is about party politics has never had to use the incomprehensible piece of crap. Even though it was released in 2004, it seemed to be the standard bearer for the very worst of 1990's web design.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

- Every new government spends more time undoing stuff done by the previous government than actually doing anything they said they would.

To be fair, the conservatives did specifically say they would spend a lot of time destroying labours legacy. ID cards died swiftly as promised, and they do look like they are having a good go at trying to clearing up red tape; http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/progess-to-date/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

Nice link.. If nothing else an excellent example of a dashboard. I see "workstreams" has now been replaced by "themes", got to love marketing...

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Anonymous Coward

F Maude

needs something alright.... spending money to save it longterm?

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Silver badge

Swanky

Damn them and their ability to get a UK address with .co

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Silver badge

Re: Swanky

Oops, *without .co

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Re: Swanky

.gov.uk is a standard domain, as is .ac.uk, .police.uk, .org.uk, .co.uk etc

Using the TLD like this actually makes perfect sense.

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Thumb Up

It's not bad

I follow some of the people involved on Twitter so I've used the beta of GOV.UK a few times and I have to say it's pretty good. It's quick and accurate to find information I need even if it then links back to Directgov for the content. A worthwhile improvement.

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Trollface

Re: It's not bad

"It's quick and accurate to find information I need even if it then links back to Directgov for the content. "

at the moment . . . .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not bad

I guess there is no accounting for taste.

Personally I think it combines the aesthetics of a primary school summer fete flyer with the navigational smarts of a Victorian lawnmower repair manual.

I think the bright young things at GDS are going to be rather busy fixing things from October onwards.

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Re: It's not bad

"It's quick and accurate to find information I need even if it then links back to Directgov for the content. "

That's designed to go away. Their <a href=”https://www.gov.uk/designprinciples#second”>Second design principle</a> (click "show examples") makes clear that they want this to be as content-free as they can possibly get away with, and only have it covering topics that noone else could ever cover and are of mass interest.

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Re: It's not bad

It's not great. One thing I looked for today by typing in the search boxes on both sites:

"dividend tax rate"

DirectGov, 1st result links to:

Tax on UK dividends

How to declare income from dividends and how to calculate the tax you have to pay

gov.uk, 50 results, none of them obviously linking to the relevant info.

I find it hard to see where the DirectGov site is broken, so I'm not at all sure why it needed to be fixed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not bad

Shock, horror!

Beta site running with only limited content...

You people do work in IT right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not bad

Well I do. So I'm aware that closing the gap between directgov and www.gov.uk between now and mid-October looks like a big job.

Personally I prefer the Northern Ireland direct gov: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk

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Although it's been mentioned in the comments of a previous article, for an idea of how experienced the team is have a read of their (rather breathless) blog at http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

Though not all of the ideas are bad: https://www.gov.uk/tour and https://www.gov.uk/designprinciples

Oh, and you can always go 'fork them on GitHub' https://github.com/alphagov/

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Megaphone

I am still astounded

by the cost of running directgov and indeed the new version. Why is it so expensive?

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Windows

Re: I am still astounded

Popular site, lots of traffic, lots of transactions.

That an the inability of any government project to buy anything at anything like the proper price.

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Re: I am still astounded

Good question. People will say it's typical of public or publically funded organisations. I disagree. I think it's the modern way in any large organisation:

Insane amounts of change for change's sake. No checks or balances on much fo that change. Decision makers can f#ck up and are simply not accountable for it. They move on to a higher paid job and all is forgotten until next time ... and so the process repeats. People need to have a stake in the changes they're making and they need to be accountable for those changes and whether they're necessary/successful. I saw this happen at a publically funded organisation where a new guy came into manage the IT dept out of absolutely nowhere. Turns out he was mates with the CEO, who also materialised out of nowhere, as did a plethora of random consultants and contractors. He awarded a contract for a new, arguably completely unnecessary, website to someone he'd worked with before. Danger Will Robinson Danger! An insane amount of money was then spent on this website which ultimately never saw the light of day. Boom. That guy disappeared, completely unaccountable for the f#ck up and the subject became instantly taboo.

Anyone with any knowledge of web development knows there are more cowboys out there than professionals. Doesn't even matter though - the people approaching them for websites very rarely have enough knowledge to make a wise, informed choice, so it has all become about the bells and whistles, the hard sell. That's all these cowboys have to do to get a foot in the door, presumably with a loss leader, then it's all about lying, deceiving, playing hardball and milking the contract for as much as they humanly possibly can. This has happened many times with both private and public organisations - NHS anyone? The problem isn't public or private, it's simply the oh-so-low bar we have accepted for ourselves, outr society and for work, where people are unaccountable, change is revered and unchecked, people can flit from one f#ck up to the next quite freely, and dishonesty has become a way of life. At this point the whole game needs changing I'm afraid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I am still astounded

"by the cost of running directgov"

One word - Steria

"and indeed the new version"

Three words - Government Digital Service

Government websites are a herd of cats. It will be quicker to create a flock of sheep than to amalgamate them into an elephant. In other words, provide toolsets and standards, don't build a mega-platform

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Happy

As long as you can get your road tax* I don't care.

*I know.

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Anonymous Coward

But...

Unlike now, you'll probably have to register for some global portal before you can get your car taxed in future. So nice to have your whole life controlled by the government in one place. Big Brother no longer even needs to watch, he has CONTROL of everything at his fingertips.

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jesus...

just looked at the beta site.

looks like its been designed by linux code monkeys. i.e. no style at all.

i use 2x 1920x1200 monitors and i have to vertically scroll for 11 headings?!?!?! the text is massive even on my screen. isnt this for the blind or something? even stevie wonder could read this!

this will be unusable on a netbook too.

more money wasted. how come much bigger sites like amazon and play cost so much less to develop?

it doesnt even validate for such a basic page:

http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gov.uk%2F&charset=%28detect+automatically%29&doctype=Inline&group=0

and the code is already basic fudges for all the IEs. basically its shite. where can i get massively overpaid to produce such drivel?

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FAIL

Re: jesus...

On 1600x1200s and a 1280x1024 here and I have to concur. WTF were they thinking?

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Silver badge

Re: jesus...

it doesnt even validate for such a basic page

I tried your link to the w3c Validator. The only errors I saw it come up with, were what look like errors in the w3c validator itself, where it tries to claim a piece of JavaScript isn't valid HTML.

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Re: jesus...

What's cool (for the public sector) is that you can use gov.uk and it *redirects* you to www.gov.uk.

Most public sites *insist* on you using the www prefix -- muppets.

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Bronze badge

They need to get their eyes tested ...

... head over to Moorfields, look at their OpenEyes software, and take a few hints from the IT department there.

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Anonymous Coward

What a beautiful cash cow

It really has been so wonderful to spend years of your life milking Direct.CashGov for every pennypound it was worth, never having your code or Kerplunk-inspired website looked at to ensure it was worth the 32-bit integer on the invoice, let alone being held to account when none of it actually worked as envisaged.

Being invited back to fix failings on projects you've already been paid for, for subsequent fees, either because you did a half-arsed job the first time or did what was asked by ministers and civil servants who didn't know what they were asking for was also the most delightful experience.

But, all gift horses get looked in the mouth one day, and I guess this is the end of this particular gravy train. Still, at least I can draw some minor consolation that I'll be doing it all again over the next few years, just under a different name supervised by differently named ministers and civil servants.

If all goes to plan, I'll have enough gov.uk cash to afford an iPhone 5 this time next month.

Anyway, that's enough arseing about on my iPad from this god-awful, sweltering Malibu beach. Time to pay for a massage from a local chick whilst playing angry birds. Genuine thanks to every tax payer back in Blighty.

Ta.

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Anonymous Coward

Errr... I see a big FAIL on the horizon

Directgov's main source of info comes from all the local authorities inputting content locations on their own site into Directgov, so are they taking that massive database over to the new site? If they are, are they perhaps going to tell us web monkeys in local authority where we are supposed to log in too to update this info in the future?

If not then I presume we will have spent a lot of tax payer money on something even worse than DirectGov and that flies in the face of the centralised 'digital by default' agenda.

I'm not surprised, takes a lot to surprise me nowadays, especially after some of the completely bullshit conversations I've been forced to take part in today.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge

Ah, happy days...

I spent a year of my life helping to set up Directgov, and I thought their approach, way back when, was good: an easy-to-navigate site with really useful and helpful information. It more or less stayed that way, but obviously tidying up and trimming something ood, and perhaps easing in some better functionality, is not nearly as sexy as building a shiny new toy.

The cost of Directgov is, however, easy to understand: I was in a team of about 20, of which a quarter were contactors (incl myself) and we did the work while the others booked endless vacations, searched for funny audio tracks on the web, had tea break, etc. It was my first time working for a Govt dept and I was astounded and the barefacery of it. So: cost of staff + cost of workers = £gazillion.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ah, happy days...

Happy days are here again. The GDS people are all on short term fixed contracts, which may explain why they seem to be viewing this as a massive on-the-job training opportunity, without really caring too much about user-testing the end-result. It's probably why they also spend so much time networking and giving talks at various events - onwards and upwards!

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Mushroom

Queue up here to dance

on the grave of the Government Gateway.

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Oh the irony

""Moving departmental websites onto GOV.UK will, in due course, realise significant savings for the taxpayer,"

Exactly the same argument was used about binning open.gov.uk (the first single portal into government) following the Gershon review which closed CCTA.

Guess who I used to work for, and what I used to do.

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Silver badge

Another set of broken links ...

I am getting annoyed how links that I have to govt web sites all seem to break every couple of years, so I seem that I am, again, going to have to spend hours tracking down where the various pages have moved to. What a waste of time :-(

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Silver badge
FAIL

Tales of online tax

Every quarter I have to pay VAT. In order to do so online (which is now obligatory), I have to have some kind of secret squirrel code to log in. It's so secret that it has to be sent to me in the post. Welcome to the 19th Century.

Actually I can't see why it has to be so secret. If anyone else wants to log in to my account and pay the VAT, you won't find me complaining.

Of course, the code never arrives in time for me to use it, because I do my VAT return at the eleventh hour. By the time I do the next return three months later, I've lost it.

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So does it mean that useful sites like...

https://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk

and

http://www.dft.gov.uk/dvla/

Are all about to go?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So does it mean that useful sites like...

Rule of thumb:

Is website going to be subsumed into gov.uk?

If useful, then yes.

Remember - GDS know better than you do what you want from government websites. They also know better than all the departments who have been tweaking their websites in tune with customer demand for years.

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Bronze badge

Re: So does it mean that useful sites like...

Typical government work: the hard stuff's already been done; let's give it a lick of paint and pretend we did it all from scratch for much less money.

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It's a bit of a shame

Back when I was contracting (swings lamp, etc.) in government, I had a lot of content that needed to go on directgov.

The web design may have been apalling, but the editors were very firm on making sure that the wording avoided the worst of the civil service's tendency towards buzzwords and the use of words like 'tranche', as well as the use of eight words where one would do.

Oh, the fights we had, trying to convince policy wallahs that it was alright to start leaving some of the footnotes out.

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Stop

Government Gateway ID

I have one of these - what do I use it for? Booking appointments for donating blood and, well, nope - that's it. It's worked fine for 8 years, but suddenly it needs to be killed off and replaced? Will I have to apply for a new ID in writing and then wait months for the new bit of shiny cardboard with the new totally unmemorable string of letters and numbers to turn up so I can access this one service roughly once every 3 months?

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