The Digital Engagement team was approached by the UK-based newsletter Civil Service World to write an article about innovation in the public sector. The editor said that New Zealand’s public service has inspired a large number of initiatives. We sent them a story about New Zealand’s beta.govt.nz website. The beta.govt.nz site was launched in late August to make sure everything works as planned before the public launch later this month.
We’re continuing to watch the evolution of gov.uk with great interest. Even before we decided to create our beta site using a similar design, we’ve been following their research and comparing their results to the observations we’re making in our own user testing sessions. Just like the GDS team, we created an alpha version of our site and used that to collect feedback from users about what would help them find government information more easily.
When working on some mockups for our beta site, we realised that the information architecture and design challenges we needed to solve were (not surprisingly) very similar to gov.uk. Since all the UK code was open source we decided to adapt their front-end templates rather than start from scratch. Creating our starting point became simpler, faster and cheaper. We like that.
Our beta site is just a starting point though. The gov.uk site continues to evolve, and so will the beta.govt.nz site. We’re keeping in touch with the GDS team, asking questions about the things they’ve done and we’re learning more about how they support both users of the site and publishing needs of departments.
Getting the new govt.nz site ready to go live early next year means we need to test our assumptions, verify the evidence we’ve collected and change the beta to make it work for New Zealanders. We’re doing more research and user testing soon, and now that the beta site is live anyone can send us feedback.
Have you looked at the beta.govt.nz site yet?