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back to article Gov.uk named THE BEST THING Britain has made all year

It's a website with all the visual flair you would expect from something designed by "cool" Whitehall bureaucrats. But even though it's something of a plain Jane, the government portal gov.uk has been named Design of the Year 2013 by the Design Museum in London. A suitable gong was handed to the website's team at a ceremony last …

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Nice clean design.

Shame half of it doesn't seem to work, or sends you back to the old direct.gov.uk site...

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J P
FAIL

A triumph of form over function

Actually, you may be better off on the old sites. There are some pretty fundamental issues with the technical accuracy of quite a lot of the tax and benefits advice, which have given rise to a lot of comment by specialists in the relevant fields - eg a few gems from living tax god John Andrews (who tweets as @jmalitrg ):

It's ok higher-paid GOV.UK says that Child Benefit is not taxable http://goo.gl/dDMkc can you tell HMRC please @gdsteam

Nice to know tax on savings interest is always deducted before you get it says GOV.UK...some will get a nasty shock

GOV.UK says you "always" pay tax on benefits if a co director..not so..eg unpaid charity directors http://goo.gl/onjUj

GOV.UK says you don't have to pay NI on tips paid to you https://www.gov.uk/tips-at-work/tips-and-tax … .please tell taxi-drivers @gdsteam and HMRC

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Anonymous Coward

Agreed. Search for anything road tax related, it insists on taking you to the gov.uk site so you can click through to the DVLA site. Obviously this is a vast improvement over going to the DVLA site directly in the first place, as my search should have and used to.

Why have one click, when 48 will do?

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Re: A triumph of form over function

"Nice to know tax on savings interest is always deducted before you get it says GOV.UK...some will get a nasty shock"

Sure must be nasty to have so much savings that interest is significant enough to cause a shock when part of it is taxed!

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J P

@NomNomNom

I take your point if it was interest alone that was the issue - but if you're a 'higher rate' tax payer based on salary etc. then you only need £1.51 of interest per year to be breaking the law if you don't pay up the extra tax over the 20% withheld at source; the interest is taken as the top slice and taxed at the highest possible rate.

Since the threshold for paying tax at 40% is falling in absolute terms every year at the moment, more and more people are at risk, and you only need around £300-400 of savings/rainy day account to trigger the problem. I agree, you may not be on the breadline at £40k pa - but if you're the sole earner for a family of 4 in the South East, money is likely to be tight and the last thing you need is the aggravation of HMRC chasing you for undeclared income, especially if 'their own' website is telling you there was nothing more to pay...

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Unhappy

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

How many back handers, kick-backs and bribes were involved to win that.

I call foul on that.

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Re: WHAT. THE. FUCK.

I think I can tell what the next Steve Bong episode is going to include. The bloke wittering on about the GOV.UK even sounds like him ...

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Global Design Award

The London-based judges of the London Design Museum (part-funded by the Arts Council, an agency of the UK Government) has awarded it's global design award to the new website of the UK Government.

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Paris Hilton

Is it only me...

...or does that website look a lot like somebody let the domain expire and a domain grabber put up their standard 'search engine' landing page?

Paris, because she's an expert at being grabbed.

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Re: Is it only me...

It isn't just you. I thought my ad-blocker wasn't working.

The only thing I like is the cookie manifest which still breaks the law as Google Analytics is not essential and must, therefore, be opt-in.

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Devil

only took them three months to get the login page working...briefly

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For a safer, faster, better experience online you should upgrade your browser.

Using Firefox 20.0

Methinks they are assuming that I have Javascript and cookies enabled.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: For a safer, faster, better experience online you should upgrade your browser.

Why not code for the normal 99%? if you disabled javascript and cookies thats your problem

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FAIL

Re: For a safer, faster, better experience online you should upgrade your browser.

Same message with IE9 and IE10

Can the developers only support a Webkit browser?

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Re: For a safer, faster, better experience online you should upgrade your browser.

"Why not code for the normal 99%? if you disabled javascript and cookies thats your problem"

What about the blind or partially sighted?

From 2009, UK government browser guidelines

Graceful degradation without scripting/ plug-ins and accessibility are required (paragraphs 41-42)

Of course the link there now gives a 404.

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Unhappy

Re: For a safer, faster, better experience online you should upgrade your browser.

No reference to use of plain English either, or illustrations? you know, for people to focus on...where are the skip to navigation and skip to content links for screen readers...poor.

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Re: For a safer, faster, better experience online you should upgrade your browser.

Why not code for the normal 99%? if you disabled javascript and cookies thats your problem

Because in some cases the use of these sites is compulsory. Paper VAT returns, for example, are no longer accepted.

If they want to make it compulsory, it should be compatible with whatever browser my operating system supports. In some cases that might be a character-based browser such as Lynx.

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WTF?

Hell has officially frozen over

A Government IT project......*that wasn't a complete fuck up*.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hell has officially frozen over

"Hell has officially frozen over

A Government IT project......*that wasn't a complete fuck up*."

You think gov.uk ISN'T a complete fuck up?

Eh?

You are typing gov.uk?

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And now, some responses to the judges

"… because it has rationalised multiple official websites, it saves the taxpayer millions"

The National Audit Office has failed to find any evidence for the claimed savings

"The design deemed best in show is something that many had given up all hope of reinventing: the UK government’s approach to information technology"

So far, the designers have only managed to implement a new website. All online Government transactions predate their involvement, and they've failed to deliver the new ones they promised.

"How many billions of pounds have been wasted in the government’s procurement of unusable IT systems? You really don’t want to know. So the fact that a team has finally found the formula of success, a formula that is better, faster and cheaper than most private sector companies’ efforts, is something to be shouted from the rooftops."

Reality check - they've re-skinned a bleedin' website.

If you want a hearty laugh, read the Government Digital Service's newly published standard (they love writing standards!) for Digital Service Delivery. Assuming you already have this badge from the Girl Guides, then you may find the tone somewhat patronising, and the content less than informative. However, printed out, and rolled up, it's useful for swatting Macbook-Air-bearing 'subject-matter-experts' upside their heads.

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M7S
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Unhappy

This smacks of a missed opportunity

"hoped the British example of good web design would be copied around the world" and "The potential is massive"

So that's going to be licenced then, so that we taxpayers get some kind of return? Perhaps with a bit of (court) enforcement action against other states that don't pay up?

Thought not.

I suspect this will be another case of our largesse where publicly funded people give away what we've paid for whilst expecting us to fork out for everyone else's stuff.

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WTF?

WTF???

Are they stupid or just in the pocket of HMG? Oh, wait they are - obviously been told "vote for us or lose your funding..."

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Boffin

On a more serious note

if the UK gov does insist on "digital by default" then presumably web pages become primary sources of information. Has anyone developed a mechanism for keeping track of websites so that you can prove what version was displayed when ?

Otherwise, I can see pages with incorrect information being put up, that people act on, and when they have to defend themselves ("the government website said this...") they find the page has mysteriously changed.

Or are they not *that* serious about DBD ?

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Re: On a more serious note

http://archive.org

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J P

Re: On a more serious note

It's been a recognised problem for some time that HMRC update their Manuals without necessarily telling you what they have changed or when - I've worked in places where it was standard practice to print out (with dates) anything you planned to rely on in advice or correspondence, and keep a copy on the file. [Said file then being sent via internal mail to a centralised scanning facility where it was converted back to a digital image for storage and subsequent retrieval]

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http://archive.org

Is that accepted evidence in court - particularly a criminal one ?

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Re: http://archive.org

Maybe not - but the snapshots on the UK gov's own national archive website probably are

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Anonymous Coward

Re: On a more serious note

"Otherwise, I can see pages with incorrect information being put up, that people act on, and when they have to defend themselves ("the government website said this...") they find the page has mysteriously changed."

Already happened to me years ago with HMRC and their online tax credit application forms, the ones that rapidly got taken down due to abuse. Even had pdf copies but apparently that's not proof of anything.

Beware folks!

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Facepalm

Hark!

Whalesong!

Man the harpoons- 'tis a Brown-nose, by God!

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Rob
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Go

Oh my god, the smell!

Sorry Jasper, nothing to do with your skill but because of the amount of quotes used from various believers in the article I thought I'd landed in a field full of diarrhoetic (sp?) cows.

Presumably the gov.uk team are still giving themselves a hefty pat on the back (excuse the pun).

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Obviously the Design Museum in London

Has never seen a decently designed website before.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obviously the Design Museum in London

Followed the link in the article and I'd have to agree they haven't seen a decently designed website before

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Mixed bag, isn't it

I've tried to find info sometimes and just kept going around in somewhat pointless loops (or get thrown into some horribly complex document, I realize 10 mins later is completely inappropriate).

However, some of it is just 'lovely' - car tax. I don't like paying it, but does what it says on the tin with minimal fuss.

Ages back I decided to get a proper photo-card driving license (as my old paper one was in pieces and covered in sellotape). The pile of paper forms and booklets I had spent 2 years sat on my shelf as I couldn't quite bring myself to wade into it.

Then I randomly tried the site - and found out I just have to fill in a single form and hand over cash, and nice new card arrived a few days later (with the photo just pulled from my passport).

As I can see some people say - it's not perfect - but there's definitely hope and whatever was spent was entirely wasted (say like every other government IT project).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mixed bag, isn't it

You obviously missed the loophole to do that for free. Simply change your address (use friends or family), await new documents then change your address back again. They do twice as much work, deal with twice as much paperwork, you get license for free. Now if only more people did this DVLA might begin to realise how dumb and unnecessary it is to tie an address to a physical license in the first place. The address only need to be on the database not on a physical item.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mixed bag, isn't it

When I tried to replace my battered old paper driving licence online, I was unable to as the address printed on the licence was demolished during a redevelopment, several years back.

When I try to enter that address on the online form, I get an "Error: Invalid Postcode" with no option to enter the address manually. So I'm forced to stick with my ever more yellow, ever more cellotape covered, ever more out of date, paper licence.

Only a minor detail in a small section of the site, but not what I would call great design... and I'm sure it's not the only such example.

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Happy

Re: Mixed bag, isn't it

"...DVLA might begin to realise how dumb and unnecessary it is to tie an address to a physical license in the first place."

Or they'll start charging for address changes!

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I'm not a frequent visitor to the site but a few several years ago I typed in the url direct.gov.uk abd got a front page article entitled:

"Unemployed? Claim benefit online at a time to suit you."

I have been unemplyed though I have never claimed benefit but it I did want to I can be sure thant most of the time would have suited me ok!

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What was the design that was deserving of an award?

All I see is a rehashed wordpress style CMS hosted in America.

The number of very BAD design flaws however are stunning.

1) This site will redirect you to other sites without warning. This is a big no no and on its own is enough to get you slapped by Google (for good reason)

2) Talking of Google, how come the various pages are so badly optimized? Gov.Uk need to stop giving Google money for PPC and actually get their pages into the organic results. Its appalling that other companies can do this better than the UK Govt and have their sites selling "form filling in services" appear ABOVE Gov.uk

3) Why is it hosted by a Merkin company?

4) Ditto, why is it hosted in an Merkin data center? it matters not where the servers physically are technically, you let the edge servers take the data to where ever but they should be investing in the UK. And if our ISP's and hosting companies are crap, you sort that out along with your other claims of massive bandwidth to all.....

5) Some 404 response headers fail

6) Some 302 redirects in there as well, this is not great, if you have moved the data, then move it, don't sit on the fence about it coming back

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Re: Why is it hosted by a Merkin company?

Sigh - it's not. To be fair to GDS (grudgingly) Akamai are a content delivery network. The site is hosted in the UK

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Anonymous Coward

I don't know a single individual who, upon seeing the reveal of the Olympic Cauldron, didn't let out a little gasp of surprise, astonishment and understanding.

I don't know a single individual who has used gov.uk who wanted to do so again.

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I have looked at the website

It is a bit rubbish, but I am sure that when it's an alpha site it will be OK.

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FAIL

SPAM

It started spamming the **** out of me.

Supposedly due to the switch from the previous FCO site it thought I was interested by such riviting news items as Billy-Whizz Hague's African trip with Angelina Jolie.

Pitiful.

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WTF?

WTF

I have just been there and theres a grotesque banner ad for "the government" that hides the fact that 50% of the accessible material is off the bottom of the page.

As someone else observed this looks exactly like those placeholder/squatter pages.

BTW viewing at 1080p gawd knows what it looks like at 768.

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Smells like some backward dictatorship awarding themselves a pat on the back indirectly. Bollocks to it.

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Sorry, just need to ask..

.. Am I high right now?

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Anonymous Coward

Hold on, when did this go live?

Only I renewed my car tax at the end of February and I seem to remember it being the usual shite (some unmemorable clunky shite splashed in horrid orange).

My memory is pretty shit at the best of times, and I wouldn't consider renewing my car tax online a memorable occasion, granted.

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Re: Hold on, when did this go live?

No, you're right. Doesn't stop Mike Bracken claiming credit for it though, even though it predates his arrival at the UK Gov's Department of Interesting Facial Hair

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Facepalm

Clueless, as usual

When all the back-slapping has stopped, maybe the Whitehall mandarins will figure out that unless Jo Citizen all have a computing device then their everything for everybody web site will not achieve it's purpose. Why don't they ask the nice RasPi people if they could develop a cheap computer to work with all those huge tellies the great unwashed/unemployed allegedly have and do a 21st century MiniTel? Oh wait...

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