Improving the accessibility of the government blogging and campaigns platforms

dxw has a long standing relationship with the Government Digital Service (GDS) and has hosted the GOV.UK blogging and campaigns platforms (like the iconic fire kills and floods destroy) for many years.

Both use our hosting platform GovPress and we recently blogged about the great work we’re doing with GovPress recently. As well as our regular hosting support, we also work in development sprints to make other improvements.

We recently worked with GDS to improve the accessibility of the blogging and campaigns platforms. They’re busy sites. Blogs.gov.uk has 1 million monthly active users and 1.6 million monthly pageviews. We need to make sure that everyone can access them quickly and easily.

After an internal GDS audit, we worked for 4 weeks on the non-compliance elements, making fixes, and improvements to the accessibility of pages. We’re lucky to have a great team of people with lots of experience in inclusive design.

The importance of accessibility

At dxw we work with a range of government departments and organisations in the public sector. It’s a well established government policy to make sure all users find digital services accessible.

Inclusive design is what we do. Whether it’s hosting services or bespoke website development. Whether they’re in the discovery, alpha, beta, or live phase. Whatever we’re working on, and at all stages, we’ll be thinking about how to make a service inclusive for everyone who uses it.

That means designing with users in mind from the beginning. We recruit user research participants from across the digital inclusion scale, and conduct continuous research that informs iterative improvements.

We’re writing our own dxw inclusive design handbook which will be a bit more tailored to our experience and approach than the Service Manual. We plan to publish it as a guide in our Playbook, where we openly share how we do things. Look out for it soon.

What we do to encourage inclusive website design

Things we’re always doing:

  • accessibility audits and fixing the non-compliances
  • testing the service with real and varied users frequently and using the things we find out to inform the development of inclusive pages
  • encouraging the use of the latest version of the GOV.UK Design System
  • making sure there’s compliance with the latest accessibility regulations

Where to start with accessibility standards

A good place to start is with an accessibility audit. We use the Digital Accessibility Centre (DAC) based in Wales. They’re friendly, communicative, and helpful. That’s a real benefit if it’s the first time you’re doing it!

The audit will assess your service against the latest accessibility regulations. These can be found at W3 in the form of WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).

Using the Design System means there’s consistency with GOV.UK. The guidelines and recommendations are compliant with regulations and standards so implementing them from the beginning is the way to go.

Some recommended reads

If you’d like to learn more on the topic, here are some of our recommended reads:

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