The GOV.AU Alpha prototype is now public

DTO’s Head of Service Design, Leisa Reichelt, explains the thinking behind the GOV.AU prototype which was publicly released today.

Today the GOV.AU Alpha prototype was made public.

This is the first small step in GOV.AU’s mission to present government information and services based around the way people look for and use information - rather than around the way government is structured.

You can read about our content model for GOV.AU here.

Watch a short video

To show how a user would use GOV.AU we created a short story about Matt, a passionate cyclist, whose dream is to open his own bike shop. The information in the prototype is shaped around this storyline.

Watch the video on YouTube

What is this prototype about?

The GOV.AU prototype was built by the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) to meet the Digital Service Standard which ensures that services delivered online are simple, fast and easy to use.

A team of developers, researchers and service and content designers had 9 weeks to move through the first 2 stages of the service design and delivery process: Discovery and Alpha. Working collaboratively and co-located, the team rapidly built and iterated the prototype.

Our earlier blog post talks about this experience and what we learned, and this prototype is the result of that first stage of work.

The prototype’s purpose is to explore design patterns that could be used widely across government. We wanted to use these patterns to test a way of guiding people through complex tasks - for example, starting a business - so they can get things done quickly and easily.

The prototype shows how we can help people better understand what government wants them to do, and give them the exact information they need to get the job done — without them having to wade through information they don’t need.

We know that people don’t want to have to work out which tier of government or which government department to deal with, they just want solutions to their problems. That’s what the prototype addresses.

We also did an early treatment of Department and Minister sub-sites to show how these types of sites could share similar templates and a visual style.

Why is this prototype being released?

As our colleagues at GOV.UK say ‘the best way to understand a product is to try to build it. Prototyping is an essential process to get a feel for the shape and edges of a product, to begin to estimate the work involved and to provide something you can quickly test with real users.’ (Working with prototypes)

Releasing a prototype in the Alpha stage doesn’t happen on every DTO project, but we know that GOV.AU is a pretty big change in how government information could be made available.

In the spirit of sharing our experimental approach we have decided to publish this prototype so that everyone who it affects (both in and out of government) can see what we are thinking. We believe that making things open, makes them better. It’s one of our design principles.

The initial prototype was designed to be optimised for mobile first and created in 9 weeks. To accommodate this public release, we’ve since spent more time improving the accessibility of the code. We’ve also made it workable on a wider range of devices.

A public Beta of GOV.AU will be available late 2016.

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