https://designnotes.blog.gov.uk/2014/03/26/betas-on-gov-uk/

Betas on GOV.UK

GOV.UK is constantly being iterated and updated and sometimes we need to draw users’ (including departments and agencies) attention to this. We do it by saying something is in 'beta'. Of course, the way we show that something is in beta is also subject to change.

Testing a new beta explanation

We're testing a new way to show users that something is in beta on GOV.UK. The explanation we are testing is: “This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt - find out what this means.” This links through to the beta explanation on the help page.

Oil and gas beta

We need to point the user to existing services, where possible, to make sure we don't get in the way if the beta can't do everything they need. In which case, we can add "Go to (organisation name) if you can't find what you need here." to our messaging to help them get to the right place.

Children's services beta

This approach worked well on the tax disc service page: 4% of users clicked through to the beta explanation page, with 75% of them returning to complete the transaction.

Where are we testing the new beta explanation?

We're testing the new beta explanation on types of content that might be:

  • incomplete
  • subject to rapid and extensive change
  • greater need for feedback
  • fragile and may break

Why are we testing a new beta explanation?

We draw users’ attention to this content to ask them for their patience as we continue to improve GOV.UK, and to keep departments and agencies informed that we are updating and improving their content.

We need feedback

We know that the in-page feedback for our betas needs to be better. We're working on a couple of different ways of doing this because we know that feedback helps improve GOV.UK.

As part of making digital government simpler, clearer and faster, we're also looking at how we explain beta within transactions and services themselves, which we'll share in a future blog post.

5 comments

  1. Alan Maddrell

    The explanation seems pretty clear but it'll be interesting to see what users make of it. Might be worth clarifying we mean digital services specifically.

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  2. Benjamin Rusholme

    The terms 'beta' and 'rebuilt' mean different things to me.

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  3. Suzanne

    The term 'Beta' might be a bit too jargon-laden for many, but I like the call for feedback! Could the prompt accompanying the term be re-worded slightly - 'This page is a work in progress - want to help us make it better?' Something like that?

    The landing page for that embedded link can then go into the explanation of the usage of beta, and the importance of having end-user feedback to make sure the info is accessible and fit for purpose. Just to make it abundantly clear it's feedback from the horse's mouth you're after...

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