All services in public beta or live must have a starting point hosted on GOV.UK. This is usually a start page.
You should start planning this before your alpha assessment.
Before your alpha assessment
Your service owner or content designer should get in touch with the Government Digital Service (GDS) content team. Do this midway through your alpha, once you’ve got:
- a name for your service
- a set of user needs you know the service needs to meet
- an idea of the sorts of changes to GOV.UK content you think might be necessary
It’s useful to share anything else you’ve got that explains what your service will do, for example any sketches you’ve done.
Before you get in touch, speak to the people in your organisation responsible for publishing on GOV.UK - they can chat about your request and help you raise a ticket. Ask them to copy you into the ticket so you can talk to the GDS content team directly.
The GDS content team will consider the impact your service will have on other GOV.UK content, and assess whether any of that related content needs to change. Throughout the development process, they’ll also:
- work with you to draft a start point for your service on GOV.UK - this will usually be a start page
- create a feedback page - also known as a ‘done’ page
Once you’ve talked about how your start point on GOV.UK might look, you can prototype the journey and test it during your private beta.
The pages won’t be published on GOV.UK until your service has passed its beta assessment.
Set up your service domain name
After you’ve agreed the start point for your service, you’ll need to get a service domain name. This is usually similar to your start point URL and should describe your service, rather than your department or agency. For example, get-fishing-licence.service.gov.uk.
You’ll need to follow the:
- guidance on naming your service
- URL standards for GOV.UK
- guidance on naming and registering government websites
You’ll need to agree your domain name with the GOV.UK Policy and Engagement team. Email the domain name you’d like to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After you’ve agreed a domain name
Once you’ve agreed the name with GDS, you’ll need to choose where to host your DNS.
Email GDS the name server information before your beta assessment so they can request the delegation as soon as you’ve passed. Send the information to email@example.com.
You must only advertise the URL (or short URL) for your start point on GOV.UK - and only once it’s been agreed.
It’s important your users start their journey on your GOV.UK start point or guidance page for your service. This is because your GOV.UK start point includes the information a user needs to complete the service.
After your beta assessment
You can begin using your service domain once you’ve passed your beta assessment.
To do this, you’ll need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to:
- request your domain name delegation
- provide at least 2 nameserver records for your domain - GDS recommends you provide 4
Setting up delegation can take up to 5 working days. Once it’s done, use DNS to perform domain validation and manage SSL certificates for your service.
DNS is often a single point of failure. Consider using multiple suppliers - that way, if one ever goes down, people will still be able to find your service.
You can get operations support if you have an issue that can’t be resolved with your DNS supplier.
You may also find these guides useful:
Added detail on when service teams should get in touch with the GDS content team.
Slightly tweaked process for performing domain validation.
Guidance first published