Birth of Betagov

So yesterday evening Betagov was born. It began not with a bang but with a Twitter :) A virtual torrent of tweets filled my timeline last night at a little after 9pm as the new site became available and we all had a little play.

I’m not going to write much here to today as better people than me have already covered the launch. The O’Reilly piece did a really nice job of setting it in the bigger picture and closer to home Steph wrote an insightful post. Also Dominic pretty much summed up the importance of the open source methodology with this one tweet;

So here is a quick list of 5 things I really admire about the site;

1. The focus on readability. None of the pages are cluttered. The font size is a little larger than usual and there is alot of white space.
2. The boldness of the site. It isn’t afraid to just give answers in plain English and clearly. I particularly like this page – https://www.gov.uk/when-do-the-clocks-change – try and find anywhere else online that clear.
3. The focus on search. Now there are still some bugs here and it is a bit unforgiving around typos and spelling mistakes but it is already very impressive and will, I’m sure, only get better.
4. The URLs. They are human readable, sensible and due to the flat nature of the site (I think) not burdened with trying to replicate some kind of file structure or navigation.
5. The use of Get Satisfaction for feedback. This isn’t really about the site but I think it is a really important step – continuing the theme of transparency that GDS have been sticking to since they were formed.

Plus as a kind of 5.1 I think it was hugely impressive that based on overnight feedback they released a new iteration of the site today fixing a number of issues users had raised. That is impressive and pretty inspirational stuff. While that sort of turnaround isn’t unexpected in start-ups its pretty amazing in the public sector. In fact this tweet pretty much sums the whole thing up;

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