Public services website hits one billion visits

Government public services website reports its one billionth visit since its launch two years ago

The government’s website has reach one billion visits since its launch two years ago.

The website’s top three most visited pages allow users to find a job, renew vehicle tax, and calculate state pension.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) launched the website in October 2012 to provide a single domain for online public services which replaced hundreds of individual departmental sites. The website – which is mobile optimised – replaced both DirectGov and Business Link, as well as hundreds of separate department and agency websites.

At its launch the website was expected to create significant cost savings. Directgov’s running costs were more than four times higher than those of, totaling £21.4m for 2011-2012. 

“As part of our long-term economic plan, this government is building digital-by-default services designed around users' needs,” said Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude. “I’m delighted we have now reached a billion visits - not only is simpler, clearer and faster for users, it’s also saving taxpayers £60m a year.”

Mike Bracken, executive director of GDS, said that, while the team has worked hard, there remains a lot to do. “But one thing is clear: Our agile, iterative, user-centric approach works. has won awards and praise from all over the world, but none of it would have happened without users.”

"After two years, we're still learning from them, and still iterating and improving the site in response to feedback. Long may that continue.”

Mobile access to

A third of traffic comes from mobile devices, rising to 50% at the weekend. The most viewed website from mobile devices is that which calculates the amount of childcare maintenance payable to a single parent family household from the absent parent.

The top three public service transactions conducted on the site are tax disc renewals (67,000 a day), statutory off-road notification (8,000 a day), and practical driving test bookings (4,000 a day).

The GDS is due to finish a two-year project to digitise the most used public services in 2015.

The ambitious project kicked off in January 2013, allowing 400 working days to complete the transformation of 25 services from visa applications to benefit claims, which were identified as the first exemplars to be redeveloped. By the end of the 400-day period, the 25 exemplars should be live, or in the last stage of public testing. 

The government claims digitising public services will make cumulative savings of £1.2bn in the present parliamentary term, rising to an estimated £1.7bn by 2016.

This month, the government announced its digital identity assurance system is ready to go live, with the first service expected to be launched in the next week or so. Verify enables citizens to prove who they are when accessing online public services. The system has been in a private beta test since February 2014 for invited individuals only, but the GDS announced Verify is now ready for its first public test.

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