Today we’ve released an update to the GOV.UK homepage. This is the first change to this page for a while, so we wanted to share the thinking behind it.
Why we’re updating the homepage
These homepage updates are part of a broader piece of work to make it easier to find things on GOV.UK. The GOV.UK homepage is used more than 2 million times each week, it’s the front door to the UK government online, and the starting point for many when looking for information and services.
The aim with this iteration is to improve the accessibility and mobile experience of this page. This is particularly important as over the last few years we’ve seen a significant shift in device usage, with GOV.UK now mostly used on smartphones and tablets (74% of measured usage so far in 2021). So while these changes appear subtle on larger screens, on mobile we hope this is a significant improvement.
We also wanted to ensure that the routes to information and services are clear and consistent across the site, and so have aligned the homepage labelling and structure with the new sitewide menu bar.
What we’ve changed
Making touch targets larger
We’ve developed a new reusable page element shown below, this provides a much larger ‘touch target’ when tapping on links.
The touch target is the name for the area of the page you need to tap to follow a link. When these are too small this makes for a really frustrating mobile experience; it can lead to people tapping the wrong link by mistake, or simply abandoning a task on mobile. A range of things can make this worse, such as a smaller phone screen, how you hold your phone, and having a tremor or motor impairment. We hope the more generous touch targets make for a better user experience all round.
Increased spacing between links
In places we’re not using the new page element, we’ve added extra spacing between links, to make them easier to select by touch.
Better routes to specific types of content
Building on our work on the sitewide menu bar, we’re bringing the same groupings of ‘Topics’ and ‘Government activity’ to the homepage. We expect most people looking for services and information to navigate via topics. But people looking for specific kinds of information, like press releases, stats and transparency documents, will have easier access to this content, which is now presented in 5 sections:
- Guidance and regulation
- Policy papers and consultations
- Research and statistics
- Transparency documents
We’ve slightly reduced the width of the search box on the homepage on desktop to free up space, but given the recent addition of a search button to the menu bar site-wide, we don’t anticipate a reduction in the rate of users searching. As with other page elements the search box is now taller on mobile to make it easier to tap to enter a query.
The new elements on this page are not yet part of the GOV.UK Design System. If they prove successful, we’ll explore making them more widely available to teams across government.
What comes next
We’ll continue to make improvements to the page based on usage data. Along with the homepage, we’ve identified 4 other elements as critical to browsing the site, which are the:
We’ve been prototyping and testing updates to all of these things so they work together as a consistent system. After the homepage work, the next element we plan to work on is topic pages. Please subscribe to keep up to date with our work.