Portal guides on GOV.UKTo keep GOV.UK as accurate and user friendly as possible, I’ve worked with colleagues to meet the most pressing needs of our users.

For example, we’ve created 27 new guides to use the portal. Before that, the portal guides were in PDF format which meant that customers might have struggled finding which guide they needed. Now in their new format as web pages the guides have simple, clear instructions and can be found more easily when searching GOV.UK.

We’ve updated 35 of our practice guides to improve the user journey so they are easier to find and to use. We rewrote them using plain English, adding links to other practice guides, to fees and to relevant forms. This also helps using the guides when reading them on a mobile or tablet.

Vince Mitchell, Operations Change and Delivery Executive, manages the practice guides updates: “Whilst we appreciate that the primary audience for our practice guides are legal professionals, we are trying to make them as user-friendly as possible for members of the public. We have used plain English where we can but need to bear in mind that, in some areas, this is difficult due to the legal complexity of some aspects of our work. We have also added links to other guides and forms which we hope our customers will find very useful.”

We’ve also:

  • updated 115 forms in 4 formats, stating users must write in black ink and block capitals. This will help to reduce the number of requisition raised
  • added links between pages to help user journey, for example Search House Price has a link to House Price Index
  • attended over 7 usability testing sessions and changed content following the research results, for example improving wording “What to do when a property owner dies
  • taken into account Welsh language needs to provide services to Welsh speakers

Things we plan to do next

In the coming months, we will be working on:

  • creating more portal guides to replace the remaining PDF ones
  • looking into improving practice guide printing
  • testing a new format for our fees information with customers
  • updating the remaining practice guides
  • working with colleagues and GDS to make mainstream pages clearer and easier to find
  • improving the way we alert customers to what has changed in our practice guides and other publications

Stephanie Hill
By Stephanie Hill,
Web content manager at HM Land Registry