GOV.UK is the award-winning website for the UK government with more than 2.5 million daily active users. It is best place to find Government services and information.
I joined GOV.UK as a Product Manager in 2018 and I currently lead the multidisciplinary team that improves how departments publish and manage effective content on GOV.UK. This summarises some of my work on Content Publisher (a new tool for departments across Government to publish their content)
Goal: Launch and iterate a new publishing tool (Content Publisher beta) for Government departments and transition from private to public beta.
The vision is to design an efficient workflow that helps publishers create and manage effective content on GOV.UK. Building Content Publisher is the first part of our strategy. It will ultimately replace the current publishing tool for departments. I joined the team when the MVP was almost ready to launch.
Making evidence based decisions using data
Replacing a legacy publishing tool means we have some data to understand current user behaviour. Here are some examples of data-based decision made:
- Identified the right document formats to build based on publishing activity
- Identified the right departments to partner with to make sure we have enough data and can learn during the private beta based on their published content
- Identified the right features and input to build or remove and determined priority based on their current usage
Product discoveries and kick offs
Before we start exploring a problem space, I document all the information we already have about the problem space: what we know e.g current processes, known problem and user needs, what we don’t know: questions, considerations and decisions we need to make. This is shared with the team to review and make comments or ask questions before I organise a kick off to explore this together, make key decisions and identify next steps.
This process helped ensure everyone had a shared understanding of the problem we wanted to solve and that we were able to solve it more effectively.
The outcome of the kick off is sometimes to do a bit more discovery and user research about problems areas that are still unclear. The methods used will depend on the questions we are trying to answer.
For example: I worked with a user researcher to understand the needs and journey for publishing statistics on GOV.UK
Setting clear product direction and creating a roadmap
With an MVP product in Private beta, I ensured the team had a clear direction of travel and a plan to go from Private to Public beta
- I ran roadmapping workshops with the team to identify and prioritise key themes/outcomes that should be achieved before we are in public beta
- I identified roles needed to achieve the roadmap goal and got buy in from the management team
- I created a mission brief to outline our milestones for the quarter and what done looks like
- Developed strategy for a gradual transition from private to public beta
Prototyping, testing and iterating quickly
Testing hypothesis and putting early prototypes in front of users helped ensure we could learn and iterate quickly. We did this using the GOV.UK prototype tool and run sessions with users often.
This meant we were able to iterate quickly and deliver value early.
Consistent communication and stakeholder management
Managing a product in Private beta means consistent communications with users to ensure they understand what has changed, what’s possible and how it affects their workflow. we did this effectively via emails and publishing release notes and keeping a clear feedback channel open
Success is efficient publishing, satisfied publishers and effective content. Having clear measures of success make it a lot easier to track progress and benchmark experience
- Setting a clear product direction and creating shared understanding is very important to help teams be effective.
- Replacing a legacy product comes with unique challenges and tradeoffs
- Measurable improvement in satisfaction of publishers from 55% to 82%
- Minimal effort to support new document types
- Publishers can complete their tasks more effectively with all GOV.UK supported features and some improvements e.g converting text to markdown
- Grew from 4 to 14 beta partners and have a clear roadmap to transition from private to public beta
- Explored the publications and speech document types, designed and tested the workflows. When released, this will account for most of the publishing activity for departments
- Ran a discovery on the needs and process for publishing statistics
- Built a migration tool to migrate content from old publishing tool to Content Publisher
Other goals achieved
- Led team to plan and start implementing a phased migration of content from a legacy publishing platform to the New Content Publisher and created strategy for transition from private to public beta
- Defined scope, product direction and roadmap for publishing workflow on GOV.UK