Apps are “very expensive to produce, and they’re very very expensive to maintain because you have to keep updating them when there are software changes,”
How did the UK reach an increasingly mobile population? Responsive websites, he replies. “For government services that we were providing, the web is a far far better way… and still works on mobile.”
Sites can adapt to any screen size, work on all devices, and are open to everyone to use regardless of their device. “If you believe in the open internet that will always win,” he says. And they’re much cheaper to maintain, he adds, because when an upgrade is required, only one platform needs recoding.
I agree very much with this. The simplification of having just one team and building just one product should not be underestimated – the benefits in terms of decreased costs and increased velocity can often be of greater benefit to the organization than the app itself would be.
the GDS has an approach that “Google is the homepage”. They don’t assume that citizens will visit the main government site; instead, they design for them to have come to a page after looking for a search engine
Each agency will want its own page with its own branding, but citizens just want information presented in a simple way.
That the front page is more a need to have for the sake of completeness than an essential part of the user navigation is really true, not just in regards to Google but also in regards to social media where a link to your front page is much more rare than a link to any of the actual content of your site.
”The best way to do this stuff is to get a multi-disciplinary team of people in house – designer, user researcher, developer, content person – you’re talking a team of about twelve people”
“You’re not spending money on huge IT contracts or huge teams of people, so a team of 12 might be replacing a team of 100. And you’re not building features that no one wants and no one uses and you’re not wasting time duplicating.”
Prototype, test, build, learn – iterate that over and over again with multiple small teams and you’ll gain much much more experience than to have your giant team just execute on a predefined roadmap which to no degree can be affected whatsoever by any of the experience gained throughout the project.
Don’t ever let agencies suggest ideas without justifying why it benefits citizens. The temptation is always there for them to meet internal objectives without building a simple service
“If you build the thing that people want, all the worrying about engagement and driving traffic all goes away because people find it and they come there,”
Focus on the people. Not on your organization and its structure. Not on the metrics and your desire to measure everything. It’s the people that matters. Everything else is a bonus. Great thoughts from the UK!