www.gov.uk: My initial views

I took a squizz at www.gov.uk the other day. Below are my very high-level views.


It looks like the search engine is pretty intelligent, more so than any I’ve seen outside Google. But stray far beyond the topics you’re invited to search on and it struggles. I’m not sure whether this is because the search engine isn’t that good after all, or whether it’s because the content just isn’t there yet.

A search for unemployment gives residential training for disabled adults as its first result, out of a total of only seven results, most of which are irrelevant.

Their “Related Topics” module on the right seems quite relevant to the articles, for what it’s worth.


Jesus. It’s phenomenally flat. Maybe the idea of a tree structure is out of the window now. If so, they’ve embraced this concept. I have no idea where I am in the site. Maybe if I’m only there to look for a specific thing each time, this doesn’t matter. But to me it’s disconcerting.


It’s dumbed down. I thought that Directgov was aimed at the right level: non-complex content in relatively bite-sized chunks. This is a lot more bullet-y and assumes very little of the reader. Maybe it appeals to the masses. It doesn’t appeal to me.

As I say, it’s high-level. But these are my findings nonetheless. Controversial?


One Response to “www.gov.uk: My initial views”

  1. James Stewart on February 11th, 2012 12:05

    Thanks for writing about GOV.UK.

    I’m especially glad you’re liking the search. It’s driven by an open source search engine called solr which is very widely used and has a huge range of options for tuning its results and performance.

    Tuning search to return accurate, useful results is a never-ending process (it can always be better) and the beta search definitely reflects this. We focussed on a few key areas (informed by Directgov search traffic, the team’s knowledge and a few assumptions) but know there’s a lot more to do. Always happy to take feedback about specific issues at https://www.gov.uk/feedback

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