Gov.uk: Open by (Award-Winning) Design

A few weeks ago, I wrote of the continuing progress on the central Gov.uk site, which is a showcase of open technologies, as well as being the place to start when interacting with central government in the UK. Looks like I'm not the only one who...

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A few weeks ago, I wrote of the continuing progress on the central Gov.uk site, which is a showcase of open technologies, as well as being the place to start when interacting with central government in the UK. Looks like I'm not the only one who is impressed by their work, since the site has just been chosen as Design of the Year in the Design Museum's

annual exploration of the most innovative, interesting and forward-looking design of all kinds, from around the world.

The nominated designs fall into seven categories: architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphics, product and transport. They can be designed by a practice, team or individual. Projects are nominated by an independent group of trusted industry experts from four main groupings – practicing designers and architects, curators from other institutions, academics and tutors from design schools and selection of journalists and writers.

A winner from each category is selected by an international jury and overall winner from the category winners is awarded the Design of the Year.

And here's what was said about Gov.uk on its win:

GOV.UK is a remarkable success on so many levels. It makes life better for millions of people coping with the everyday chores, from getting a new passport, to paying their taxes. It's a reflection of the government understanding how to communicate with the country in a way that works, it's simple, direct, well mannered, all the things that we would like to take for granted from the government, but in a sea of red tape and jargon, usually can't. GOV.UK looks elegant, and subtly British thanks to a revised version of a classic typeface, designed by Margaret Calvert back in the 1960s. It is the Paul Smith of websites. The rest of the world is deeply impressed, and because it has rationalised multiple official websites, it saves the taxpayer millions, what's not to like?

Of course, Gov.uk mainly won the award for its design, rather than for the fact that it is built using free software. But that in itself is remarkable: for too long, open source has been associated with high efficiency and functionality rather than perfection of form. The latest accolade for Gov.uk shows that you really can have it all: open, standards-compliant, low-cost, efficient, secure, flexible – and elegant. As Deyan Sudjic, Director of Design Museum says in the quotation above, "what's not to like?"

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