GDS to improve Gov.uk with user monitoring

by Emma

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The Government Digital Service (GDS) has introduced a new measurement approach intended to enhance the experience of users of the Gov.uk platform.

Launched on 16 June, Real User Monitoring (RUM) will deliver detailed information to Gov.uk on how a government website is performing to its 335 million annual users based on information about the device and browser they are using as well as their internet connection.

According to GDS, RUM only collects anonymous data if users consent to use of that data via cookies for analytics purposes. According to GDS, the cookie information has been updated to ensure it’s clear that users can opt in if they want the information about their visit collected.

The approach allows Gov.uk, which gets more than 53 million visits a month to over half a million pages of information, to find out the type of mobile or desktop device citizens are using when accessing the government services online. It also provides information on the browser and the screen size used, as well as the users’ bandwidth and connection speed.

“While users’ personal data is not collected, RUM means we are able to find out more about where and how visitors view Gov.uk. This helps us to work out which parts of the website aren’t performing well,” said Jen Allum, head of Gov.uk.

The monitoring data is expected to provide Gov.uk with data on “how the complexity and structure of Gov.uk impacts the speed that a page loads up and, in turn, how these factors affect things like memory and battery use”, GDS said.

Knowing more about the type of connection will help in terms of getting insight on how this might limit viewing and interaction with Gov.uk pages, the digital service added, noting that these insights are expected to help Gov.uk to see patterns and trends that can identify problematic pages, understand why pages are not working and fix them.

According to the GDS, RUM will be followed by other improvements to Gov.uk in 2021, which will include improvements to navigation and personalisation of services. GDS wants to gather data centrally on the performance of Gov.uk to offer more joined-up services by better understanding what information users want.

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