A little over a week ago we launched GOV.UK. Except we didn’t, really. There was frantic work well into the evening of October 16th as people sought to ensure that we’d met all our legal obligations and that the right polish was in place. But we didn’t really launch GOV.UK…
What we launched was a cluster of nginx servers that redirect traffic for direct.gov.uk and businesslink.gov.uk (and a host of subdomains) to the correct places on the GOV.UK site that had been in place for months. Our launch was primarily about switching something off, not switching something on. And that was ideal. We made the smallest change we could possibly make, we tested it, and we told people.
shipped a nation’s website. No biggie.
— Paul Downey (@psd) October 17, 2012
It’s a tighter, faster and more expansive gov.uk than the one we released back in February. It’s been put through its paces over and over again, and we’ve cleaned it up (content, design, tech) as we’ve gone along. (We’re Actually Always Refactoring as a very good recent blog post has it).
The fact that we switched off two very large websites and replaced them with one simpler, clearer, faster alternative is a big deal. The fact that this site is now the canonical source for a whole host of information is a serious business. But in practice it was another small, iterative step of the sort we intend to keep making over and over.