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United Kingdom commits to 1 government website

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The United Kingdom officially launched a single government website called Gov.uk Oct. 17--rounding out consolidation efforts that had already brought the country's 820 national government websites down to just two domains, Directgov and Business Link, in less than 2 years. The single government portal had been in beta since Jan. 31.

"Gov.uk has led us to repurpose much of the government's digital estate," writes Mike Bracken, executive director of digital in the U.K.'s Cabinet Office in a post at The Guardian.

Backen's team created 28,500 mappings between Directgov or Business Link and Gov.uk, reformatted 41,000 pages of content from 10 department websites for Gov.uk and reformatted 470 "detailed guides" from Business Link for Gov.uk as part of the process, he adds.

The current site was informed by relentless testing and requests for public input, writes Bracken. His office surveyed more than 20,000 users on Directgov and Business Link, conducted 11 rounds of face-to-face user testing by a wide variety of users since July 2011, and tested more than 3,000 users' transactions on Gov.uk.

Bracken's team believes the final product is simpler and faster for users. Early testing revealed average task success on Gov.uk was 61 percent, versus 46 percent on Business Link. On average it also took 1 minute less to complete a task on Gov.uk than Business Link, he writes.

Going forward the website will add more services--such as those that rely on identity capabilities--more metrics for departments and agencies, and more data services, writes Bracken.

Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel has said he's closely watching website consolidation efforts underway in the United Kingdom to inform U.S. dot-gov reform efforts. While it's unclear whether or not U.S. government websites would scale down to only two domains, VanRoekel is taking several cues from Gov.uk.

Business.USA.gov--which the White House unveiled Feb. 17 and still remains in beta--aims to be the "virtual one stop shop that gives businesses access to the full range of resources they need at every stage of their development," said VanRoekel. The site will allow users to profile themselves, and then find services or resources based on the "swim lanes" or tracks they're interested in.

For more:
- read the Mike Bracken's post at The Guardian
- watch an embedded video about the new website

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