The site is built. It tests well with users. The departments have all moved in. So what’s next?
In all the government web projects I’ve worked on before, this would be the moment we walk away. The budget and project team would be replaced with business-as-usual support arrangements, usually comprising a much too low number of monthly developer-hours.
Not this time. Digital products are *never* finished, and the Inside Gov product team is in it for the long haul. We’ve a lot left to build, and we’ll be iterating constantly to make the product better for end users and publishers alike.
I’m massively excited about what’s coming next.
Here’s a flavour of what will be keeping us busy from here on in.
In the week of 13th May we’ll step back from building stuff to take a long hard look at what we’ve learned, and what the priorities are for the coming month or two.
We need to clear up some technical debt, tidy some of the content and redirects, and spend time building tools to make the transition of the next wave of 280+ organisations possible.
So we’ll spend a week planning that, and then a month or two doing it.
There’s a separate team working on improving the site search for a fixed period of weeks, and 3 of the Inside Gov team are off doing that. It’s the number one priority for GOV.UK as a whole.
That project will deliver some tangible improvements by early summer, and lay the foundations for ongoing improvements to search after that.
Building new things
Right now the development backlog contains 440 tickets (a mix of bugs and new features). More than half of these are high priority things that we’ve had to put on hold in order to complete the transition of the 24 depts on time.
Those 440 tickets are far from being a complete list, either. There are many big pieces of work we plan to do, some of which are listed as epics in our public project tracker. They include things like:
- adding more controls over who can access what in the publishing tool
- redesigning the publishing interface and improving workflow
- integrating the blog platform with inside gov
- simplifying the publications model
- adding validation and reporting to help improve content quality
On top of all that, there is an unknown quantity of new features that will be needed for the agencies and ALBs coming our way.
So, very obviously, many of those 440 existing tickets will never get done. New things will be added daily to the backlog. I’ll be prioritising ruthlessly, with the help of the team, to keep us focused on delivering the next most important thing at all times.
Iterating all the things
As well as adding new features, now is the time that we can start really looking at how users are interacting with the site, and making improvements based on that. So we’ll be aiming to be a lot more responsive to user feedback and test findings, and will be doing more analysis to solve specific, real user problems and to shape our thinking about where to take the product as it continues to evolve.
I’m also going to come round for a coffee during May and June to each of the 24 departments, to hear first hand how things are going from your perspective. I’ll be in touch about that by email.