The Government Digital Strategy committed the government to ensuring all new or redesigned digital services meet this standard from April 2014.

Services will be assessed against the standard and must continue to meet the standard after launch. Digital teams must show that they understand what their service needs to meet the standard and should understand what happens to failing services.

Teams must demonstrate that they have met the criteria below, and must be able to maintain this quality for the full life of their service.

The criteria

  1. Understand user needs – conduct research to develop a deep knowledge of who the service users are and what that means for digital and assisted digital service design.
  2. Assemble a multidisciplinary team that can design, build and operate the service, led by a suitably skilled and senior service manager with full authority and decision-making responsibility.

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  3. Evaluate what user data and information the service will be providing or storing, and address the security level, legal responsibilities, and risks associated with the service (consulting with experts where appropriate).

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  4. Evaluate the privacy risks to make sure that personal data collection requirements are appropriate.
  5. Evaluate what tools and systems will be used to build, host, operate and measure a service, and how to procure them.
  6. Build a working prototype using the agile, iterative and user-centred methods set out in the manual.
  7. Establish performance benchmarks, in consultation with GDS, using the 4 key performance indicators (KPIs) defined in the manual, against which the service will be measured.

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  8. Analyse the prototype service’s success, and translate user feedback into features and tasks for the next phase of development.

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  9. Create a service that is simple and intuitive enough that users succeed first time, unaided.

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  10. Put appropriate assisted digital support in place that’s aimed towards those who genuinely need it.

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  11. Plan (with GDS) for the phasing out of any existing alternative channels, where appropriate.

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  12. Integrate the service with any non-digital sections required for legal reasons.

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  13. Build a service consistent with the user experience of the rest of GOV.UK by using the design patterns and style guide.
  14. Make sure that you have the capacity and technical flexibility to update and improve the service on a very frequent basis.

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  15. Make all new source code open and reusable, and publish it under appropriate licences (or provide a convincing explanation as to why this cannot be done for specific subsets of the source code).
  16. Use open standards and common government platforms (eg identity assurance) where available.
  17. Be able to test the end-to-end service in an environment identical to that of the live version (using dummy accounts and a representative sample of potential service users) on all common browsers and devices.
  18. Use analytics tools that collect performance data.
  19. Build a service that can be iterated on a frequent basis, eg in response to user feedback or performance data and make sure resources are in place to do / pay for the iteration.

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  20. Put a plan in place for ongoing user testing, including the ability to support multivariate experiments.
  21. Achieve ongoing high levels of user satisfaction across the digital and assisted digital service, with performance data reported on the Performance Platform.
  22. Achieve ongoing high completion rates across the digital and assisted digital service, with performance data reported on the Performance Platform.
  23. Create a plan (with supporting evidence) for achieving a low cost per transaction across the digital and assisted digital service, with performance data reported on the Performance Platform.
  24. Create a plan (with supporting evidence) for achieving a high digital take-up and assisted digital support for users who really need it, with performance data reported on the Performance Platform.
  25. Create a contingency ‘rollback’ plan in the event of the service being taken temporarily offline.

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  26. Successfully test the service from beginning to end with the minister responsible for it.

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