Government IT

UK government website wins global design award

Warwick Ashford

The UK government's website, Gov.uk, has beaten off competition from the Shard, the Olympic cauldron and a folding wheel for a wheelchair to win the global 2013 Design of the Year award.

It is the first time a website has won the London Design Museum award, which has previously gone to designs for the London 2012 Olympic Torch,  a low-energy lightbulb and a folding plug.

The Gov.uk website, designed as a one-stop-shop for government services, won praise for its intuitive, user-centred approach, and for saving the taxpayer money by consolidating dozens of official websites.

Judges praised the Gov.uk website for being “simple, direct, [and] well mannered”, awarding it the digital award as well as the overall prize.

A revamped Parisian tower block and a folding wheel used to create a collapsible wheelchair took prizes in the architecture and transport categories.

The Telegraph quoted Prime Minister David Cameron as saying: "This government is committed to being the most transparent in the world. For the first time, people can find out what's happening inside government, all in one place, and in a clear and consistent format.

"It is just another example of Britain's world-class design talent standing out on the global stage; in this case helping to enhance the modern relationship between the public and government,” he said.

The government’s digital service design team took inspiration from a history of public service design, according to the Guardian, from Harry Beck's London Underground map to UK motorway signage developed by Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir in the 1960s.

For clarity and consistency the site uses a single font throughout – an updated version of the Transport typeface designed by Kinneir and Calvert.

The site's structure is guided by 10 design principles, including "start with user needs, not government needs", "be consistent, not uniform" and "do less", which came out of user feedback.

The site is a product of the government's "digital by default" strategy, recommended by a report commissioned from Lastminute.com co-founder Martha Lane Fox.


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