Happy faces might be rare at London's Number Ten these days, but there will be smiles all round at the news that Gov.uk has won the Design Museum's Designs of the Year Award 2013. In fact, no matter what your politics, this groundbreaking website designed by the Government Digital Service is truly worth celebrating. Already being held up as a benchmark alongside such other British graphic icons as Margaret Calvert’s road signs, and Harry Beck’s tube map, the new Gov.uk has achieved the seemingly impossible: making interacting with government straightforward.
An exercise in sophisticated simplification, Gov.uk combines all of the UK government’s websites into a single domain. Where most websites look to keep visitors reading as long as possible, design director Ben Terrett explains that here, the opposite is true. 'We want the experience to be fast and easy, so if people are spending ages on one page, it’s not working,' he says.
Among a host of initiatives to make politics more transparent, the website adheres to a strict style guide. Visitors will no longer be baffled by words such as ‘tackling’ (unless the context is about rugby), ‘deliver’ (unless it’s about pizza or post, not policies), and ‘disincentivise’. The winning design was chosen from 98 entries to claim the overall prize, and the award was collected by Terret and Mike Bracken, executive director of Government Digital Service.
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader said: 'For the first time, people can find out what's happening inside government, all in one place, and in a clear and consistent format. It is just another example of Britain's world class design talent standing out on the global stage.'
Six other projects were also awarded as category winners, including the Tour Bois-Le-Prêtre in Paris, designed by Frédéric Druot, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal for the architecture category; and Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s 'Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel', for fashion. Konstantin Grcic picked up the award in the furniture category for his Medici Chair for Mattiazzi, the Venice Architecture Biennale identity by John Morgan Studio won best graphics, and Kit Yamoyo by ColaLife and PI Global won best product. Finally in the transport category, Vitamins won with the Morph Folding Wheel. They have reinvented the wheel, and in doing so – like the Government Digital Service – they’ve proved that going back to basics is the key to great design.