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Publishing for the Rest of the World

April is when the new financial year starts for GDS, and this coming year will be a bumper one. GOV.UK is changing how we all work in teams and what we’re going to be doing. This year has been all about getting the back-end working well, with transitions of existing websites and major work on publishing apps. In the coming year, we’ll be concentrating a lot more on user-facing features, and that includes where I’ll be working.

Worldwide Publishing is the name of the new team that I’ll be part of, and we’ll be concentrating on improvements to the pages on GOV.UK that are aimed at either UK citizens or others who are outside the UK. This includes pages about getting assistance, embassies and high commissions around the world and news of interest happening in other countries. A discovery process a few months ago showed that a lot of pages were not fulfilling user needs, and so we’ll be making them better.

Like all the other teams on GOV.UK, we have 11 weeks to do as much as we can, without leaving anything half-done or introducing a lot of new technical debt. This time-limited period ensures that projects don’t go on forever without clear end dates and goals. At the end of the 11 weeks, all teams are expected to have delivered something of value and closed out the project cleanly. There will then be a 1 week “fire break” period where people will be able to work on projects of their choice related to GOV.UK, before the next 11 week period begins.

At the start of all of this, beginning in April, there will be a 2 week period where everyone will be working either on tools that will assist with future projects, or reducing technical debt. This may involve “preparing the ground” for something larger, deleting some unused code or working towards deprecating a back-end app. Whatever it is, it must demonstrably be of benefit to later development - no pet projects that will just leave a larger support base in the future.

2017-18 is the year when the general public will really see the fruits of six years of labour to bring everything into one place on GOV.UK and build the tools government users need to keep it up-to-date. Hopefully it will cement the status of GOV.UK as the trusted place to get information from the government.

If this sounds like a good place to work, take a look at Working for GDS - we’re usually in search of talented people to come and join the team.