Web design with user experience at the top of the agenda: Alpha.gov.uk

by Yeevon Ooi on 16 May 2011

Championing user experience is part of my job, but actually seeing it being done properly is quite a rare occurrence. Most interactive products and websites are built based on business needs, technological constraints, limited resources, and sometimes fuzzy objectives – which is why the launch of alpha.gov.ukwas a breath of fresh air to the digital community.

Alpha.gov.uk is a prototype that was built according to no one’s rules but those of individuals who are obsessed with meeting users’ needs. The site resembles Google with a large search bar across the homepage – you can think about it as the Google for everything government. You can search for any information related to the government from booking a driving test to finding out about state pensions.

Some of my favourite usability ‘wins’ on the site include:

  • You don’t have to remember which government department does what
  • It explains complex things in simple language and clear step-by-step guides
  • The wizard-type tool gives you answers to questions based on your specific circumstances
  • It has a larger font size than most websites – I’m not even 30 and I love big font sizes

There are some minor issues that could be improved during the beta phase – I’ve put these down in anarticle which also divulges further analysis of the site.

It’ll be interesting to see if the public will adopt this site and actually start using it to ‘Google’ government related information. Perhaps in a few years time, you will hear people in the UK say “oh, just ‘gov’ it, don’t even bother calling”.

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