Recent changes to Justice.gov.uk; plans to improve search and content

Earlier this week I reported on how courts data is handled by HM Courts and Tribunals Service, with details of the contracts between the MoJ, Courtel and Bailii.

When I was researching the issue in June I asked the Ministry of Justice about changes to its site. As you may have noticed Justice.gov.uk recently underwent a re-vamp (in April 2011) and HMCTS data is now hosted on its site.

The MoJ web team answered my questions earlier this month. The answers aren’t terribly specific about future plans, but they do state that they’re open to suggestions from users. There’s a web survey here or you can email the MoJ website via web.comments [at] justice.gsi.gov.uk.

I noticed the Justice site has a new look and I wondered if you could outline the main changes?
The main changes implemented came about as a result of a Cabinet Office directive to reduce the number of departmental websites. The changes involved:
•    Converging the content of approx. 50 related public bodies/organisations into the Justice.gov.uk website, and refocusing it to become a website about the justice system as a whole, rather than simply a departmental website for the Ministry of Justice.
•    A shift of focus towards providing corporate and practitioner information only, with public-facing transactional content being moved to Directgov and Businesslink.
•    Archiving content more than two years old by moving it onto the National Archives web archive.
•    A simple design refresh to enable these changes.

Was the work done internally or by a private contractor?
Internally by the web and design teams in the Communications Directorate

What other plans do you have for developing the justice website?
There are further developments planned in the near future.  With such an increase in content from a disparate range of websites, we now need to harmonise style and tone and to develop a more holistic and user-focused content proposition. This will involve some user research and testing and a review of the information architecture of the site in light of those findings. We are also working to develop new features and functionality that will improve the user experience e.g. offering a more personalised view of the site by delivering content based on a person’s job function. We are also looking to improve the search experience and to introduce the wider use of dynamic pages to surface relevant content.

Also, I am interested in the transfer of court hearing listings from the HMCS site to Justice.gov.uk and wondered if there were any plans to develop the service further?
The information is the same as that which appeared on the HMCS site – the pages have simply been reskinned with the justice.gov.uk look and feel. We are reviewing all tools and applications and how we can better integrate this type of content into the site. There are no specific plans as yet, and we’re open to suggestions.

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