UX In-specs – Gov.uk

As a designer, I’m constantly aware of what content other brands and services are producing, and it’s really frustrating when you notice something that looks or performs terribly. For example, I can’t even tell you how many times I have been stuck on the Sign In page on the gov.uk website. I made an account a few years ago whilst working on some freelance projects and have since had enormous difficulties accessing my account to update my name and address.

I’m not sure where I am going wrong, maybe it’s that I can’t grasp what they want me to do. I know it seems simple – just request a forgotten User ID, add some details and ding, there is your User ID… But every time I try, I mess something up, get frustrated and leave.

I thought I’d give redesigning the forgotten User ID journey a go to see if it could be simplified, appear friendlier and be a lot more instinctive. I have done this with no other research other than my own grievances, but as a user of the site, it’s a small and relevant insight into the mind of a gov.uk user, and what could be done if they researched their users’ behaviour a little more.

Let’s begin…

Sign in page

Problems with original

User ID – Not everyone can remember their User ID and there is no prompt to help the user remember where it was originally sent, for example on a letter or in an email.

Language issue – There should be more languages to select.

Call To Action – The ‘Get help with this page’ link is too small. Also, once the link is clicked a small form appears with ‘name’ ‘email’ ‘what were you doing’ ‘What do you need help with’ boxes. There’s no indication of how long it will take for someone to get in touch, or an alternative method of contact for immediate help.

How we would solve this problem

User ID – Added yellow question mark to prompt users with a reminder on where to find their User ID.

Call To Action – Removed the link along with ‘get help from HMRC’s automated assistant’ and replaced them with a chat function for instant help.

Language issue – Replaced with language drop down so the user can choose from a wider selection of languages.

Overall page design – Given the pages a uniformed look and feel, incorporating more of the brand colours to freshen up the design.

I selected Forgotten User ID which has taken me to the next page.

Select service

Problems with original

Not informative enough – This page is missing core information about each service which should work to prompt the user to choose the correct one. Again, an instant chat function isn’t present so if the user isn’t sure what HMRC service they have used, they might go down the wrong path.

Stages unclear – Not clear what stage of the journey the user is on and how many steps are ahead.

How we would problem solve

Not informative enough – Added extra information about each service and included chat function at bottom of page.

Stages unclear – Added a stages bar to the top of the page which acts as a clear visual guide for the user.

I have then clicked onto the Self Assessment box and pressed continue.

Select contact method


Problems with original

Design – Page design has changed to a very small condensed format which is quite confusing and hard to understand.

Help button – This is now in a different place because of the new design and it’s not clear where this link will take the user and if by clicking it would clear the form progress.

How we would problem solve

Design – Design is now the same as previous page with clear instructions for the user. Journey steps are highlighted.

Help button – Chat function is present at the bottom of the page.

I then clicked the online box then continue.

Enter details

Problems with original

Design and layout needs a rethink – There is too much information and the ‘plus extra information’ isn’t very clear to the user.

Help button – Same issue with the placement of this button.

How we would problem solve

Design and layout needs a rethink – Our design has been given more room to breathe, with added colour on the Calls to Action, and question mark buttons to clearly guide the user. The ‘Additional information’ section has been laid out differently so it’s easier to understand.

Help button – Chat function has moved to an icon in top right hand corner just in case the user needs to speak to someone at this point in the journey.

I then pressed submit, and because my details don’t correspond with the information they have on their system I was given an error message and couldn’t complete the journey to finally restoring my User ID. Instead, I have created what I would hope to land on having just successfully entered my details.

Receive User ID

Workshop’s version of the User ID page.

The User ID would be displayed in bold on a coloured background, and there would be a ‘send your User ID to yourself’ function to eliminate future lost details.

There would also be clear Calls to Action to take the user home or to the login page.

The chat function would still be present just in case the user needed assistance at this point.

Over to you…

If you feel like your customers aren’t completing their sales journey or you’re getting feedback from users who can’t find something that seems so obvious to you, it might be that your user journey isn’t signposted enough, or it’s so complex that users have no idea where to go next.

Whatever it is, get in touch and we will find a way to solve your User Experience issues with targeted research, insight-led design and real user testing. Email us or call 0161 950 5555.



By Jess Reid