Digital Publishing Roadmap – the year ahead

Photo of a laptop with stickers

We have updated our roadmap with our plans for next year. A roadmap is somewhere between a business plan and a huge To Do list. It helps us to plan the improvements we want to make to our publishing service and to track how we’re doing. Being open, it also allows us to share those plans with anyone who is interested.

How we are using the roadmap

We first made the roadmap available via a blog post from Andy last autumn and a follow up from Rachel a few months later discussed the progress being made. Over the first year of using it, we have learnt what works for us and are incorporating that learning into next year’s plans. For example, one thing we have learnt is that estimating progress is not always as simple as we might expect. So, we have started to break the bigger objectives down into smaller activities. For some of those, the first will be a small Discovery stage or some user research, which will help us to plan the later stages.

Another thing we have learnt is that it isn’t always clear when we have finished something. So, we plan to establish a checklist completion, a Definitions of Done, for everything.

As Rachel discussed in her blog, we introduced a 1 to 5 confidence score, which has worked well for us in our regular reviews. Changes to the scores spark useful discussions about risks and give us the chance to review dates or remove blocks to progress. The ProductPlan tool uses some standard categorisations such as strategic importance and simple effort. These have helped us plan and prioritise the work for next year.

Photo of a laptop with stickersThe key themes we introduced this year are retained for next year. They still encapsulate the scope of what we are trying to do. They remain simple to understand and are being used by our teams to relate their day-to-day work to bigger strategic aims. And we’ve still got some of the stickers available.

Present complex data on the web

This year we started a Data Discovery project, to develop the ability to customise and explore data. We are currently preparing for a Government Digital Service (GDS) assessment of the alpha phase which ends in early April, having built a prototype around a small number of datasets. We will move into a beta phase and deliver a public beta system in the second half of next year.

Alongside this, we will establish and meet user needs for geographical products, switch off our old web systems and establish partnerships with the open data community. We will also create a strategy for 4/5* data.

Improve the ONS website

This year we have refactored much of the website code and that work will continue into next year, which will also enable us to implement a Platform as a Service. Alongside this, we will ensure all new services meet accessibility standards and embed the needs of users with access needs in everything we do. Our Visual.ONS site has been running as a separate beta site for a while, and we will be integrating this into the main site. We will research what our users need in terms of being notified when data is available and also what caveats are needed around some of our data. We will start to understand the requirements for presenting research and experimental statistics, in collaboration with the Data Science Campus which will launch soon.

Improve publishing and formats

We are coming to the end of the second year of our 3-year content strategy, which has guided our work in this area. Next year we plan to develop new syndication and editorial partnerships. We want to improve user journeys to our content, by understanding the need for landing pages and at-a-glance information. We will embed both content design and user-centred design into the development of our statistical products. A significant challenge for us is the development of measures of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, for which we will be establishing the means of dissemination.

Support the 2021 Census

The first test of the 2021 Census takes place in April this year, which requires a range of web and dissemination activities. We will be creating a campaign site to support the tests, visualisation of the results, as well as further work on building a disclosure control engine.

Support the GSS digital/data plans

We are currently analysing the results of the work we have done across the Government Statistical Service (GSS). The aim of this work is to understand how data are produced and disseminated across government, and how feasible it would be to bring them together in one place. We think it is worth exploring further and plan to run an alpha phase to build a portal for GSS data. We will also develop a strategy for linked data.

That’s a brief summary of our roadmap for next year. Ambitious, but doable. As with any plan, it is likely to change over time, but it will always display our current intentions. If you want to know more or have any feedback, please get in touch.