Team collaboration

The GOV.UK team collaborating on step-by-step navigation.

GOV.UK step-by-step navigation

Every week millions of people use the UK government's GOV.UK website to do complex and sometimes life-changing tasks, such as learning to drive, getting a visa, or starting a business.

In the past, finding the guidance, forms and online services you needed could be difficult and time-consuming.

Step-by-step navigation is a new feature on GOV.UK that allows any service to be represented as a series of simple steps.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Every week millions of people come to the UK government’s website, GOV.UK, to do complex and sometimes life-changing tasks.

The GOV.UK team run extensive user research and analysis of user journeys. We saw consistently that many users struggled to find what they needed and to complete complex tasks.

The difficulty was that to complete these tasks users often had to find and read multiple pieces of content and then fill out a series of forms or online transactions.

These content items, forms and transactions might have been owned by separate and siloed parts of government. Users were often left to figure out for themselves the right time and order to complete them.

Because these content items and transactions were all hosted on GOV.UK, we were able to bring together all of the separate pages and present them as simple, clear services. These services are broken down into easy manageable steps. We call this step-by-step navigation.

You can see this feature in action at:

The process might sound simple but it required unprecedented collaboration between multiple government departments. Facilitated by the GOV.UK team, these departments worked together using service design methods to map end-to-end user journeys.

These journeys range from ‘becoming a driving instructor’ to ‘setting up a charity’.

The innovation also required GOV.UK’s web developers to create a new interaction design pattern to present this journey in a simple, clear and accessible way.

Step-by-step navigation isn’t just a one-off improvement to a single service that government provides. What we have created is a model of collaborative workshops and re-usable design components, which means this process can be replicated for any government service.

For citizens, step-by-step navigation presents complex tasks as a series of clear, manageable steps, giving users the right information at the right time and in the right order.

The GOV.UK team iterated these designs over 8 rounds of usability testing, each time making it a little easier to use and more accessible.

Around this time we also launched a new feature on GOV.UK that allows users to provide feedback on every page of the site.

We knew this pattern had potential when we started seeing that the new step-by-step pages consistently scored higher than existing content. By measuring usage and usefulness, we were able to demonstrate the value of this new approach.

There are now 18 step-by-step journeys live on GOV.UK, including some of most important and difficult tasks a user might ever need to do. These include:

- Employ someone: step by step
- Apply for a Standard visitor visa: step by step
- What to do when someone dies: step by step

The GOV.UK team is now collaborating with more than 12 different government departments to roll out this approach to every area of government.

Oliver Dowden CBE, the UK’s Minister for Implementation, describe the work like this:

“ Work like this improves life for people. We are enabling people to interact with government in the most straightforward way. [...] It should be the direction that all departments are going in.”

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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Year: 2018
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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