back to article Crowning glory of GOV.UK websites updated, sparking frontend upgrades

GOV.UK websites this week started implementing a major change: a new crown icon. Head of design Laura Yarrow and senior interaction designer Chris Ballantine-Thomas offered a history lesson to explain the motivation for the change. "In September 2022, the College of Arms announced His Majesty King Charles III's Royal Cypher, …

  1. Rikki Tikki

    Canberra is way ahead of them on this - or possibly 70 years behind. The ACT crest has always featured the Imperial State/Tudor Crown. So we only had to change one word in the motto.

  2. Oniznorb

    Years of gov.uk websites still shown as in beta, and they think changing the logo is important?

    1. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Years of disintegrating civil society and they think websites are important?

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        If you don't like the way society is going, it's all on github - you can just fork it.

        No, I didn't read the article carefully, why do you ask?

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          If you don't like the way society is going, it's all on github - you can just fork it.

          Yes please.

      2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        "The purpose of a system is what it does"

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      You can forgive them for being somewhat excited, it's probably the biggest project they've done in the past year.

      1. Groaning Ninny

        The whole beta thing is bizarre - people actually working on and relying on these services see them as anything but.

        These are big and awesome systems that actually impressed me when I first used them. Applying for a passport is EASY now. The "live flood warmings" system is really good, and scales as well as you expect/need.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          I just registered on the Government Gateway using my current passport and iPhone doing a facial scan (somehow the camera is still working afterwards). All very slick. It actually seems to work, and let me find out about what HMG thinks it knows about me ...

          1. anonanonanonanonanon

            I was quite impressed I could renew my passport from abroad a few years ago, was actually pretty smooth.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      When I look at what companies* do I think this kind of delicate rebranding after 75 years is fine. Yes, it does nothing to improve the morass of whalesong bullshit that runs with the logo but it still needed to be done.

      * The BBC's infantilist and self-parodying rebranding a few years ago springs to mind. I bet Perfect Curve are gutted that they didn't get the account.

    4. dippy1

      Glad to see its not just me that thinks the "beta" is crazy after how many years?

      its a probably a cover your backside move.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Back when I was involved in GOV stuff, the last step in the development of a service was “obtain ministerial sign-off”. That was the point a beta transitioned to live.

        Anecdotally, ministerial sign-off was both the hardest thing to obtain and the least useful, so a lot of teams either didn’t bother or perpetually kept it in the backlog. So a lot of services got all the way to very functional betas and stayed there.

        I think the rules have been updated now, but I can’t be bothered looking to see if that particular thing has changed.

        1. bumpbumpbump

          It certainly hadn't changed when I last went through ti in 2022

        2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          To be fair, why would a minister give a sign-off for a website to remove the word "beta"?

          They are then taking responsibility for every bug in the system, every external service it uses, etc.

          They don't expect the press to play fair so why risk their career over something so trivial?

          1. Bebu Silver badge
            Windows

            Better

            《why would a minister give a sign-off for a website to remove the word "beta"?》

            With the current dismal crop of ministerial talent I shouldn't be surprised if they were to think that beta meant better.

            I don't suppose anyone would notice or really cares whether the web site sports a Tudor or St Edward crown icon. I am not certain the average Brit would notice if the diagonal red parts of the Union flag were removed (but they might in Ulster. :)

  3. Ball boy Silver badge

    If they *really* want to improve the experience....

    They should start by dragging their services into the modern age. I recently had to use DVLA (UK vehicle and driver database) to update my address and here's the message from their front page:

    Use this service to change the address in your log book to a new UK address.

    This service is available from 7am to 8pm.

    What the heck? Does this mean any overly fast driving at night won't result in a ticket because their database is having a little nap? ;)

    1. Victor Ludorum
      WTF?

      Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

      Maybe the DVLA's database has unionised and only works specific hours?

      Or the last person to leave the office (at 8.01pm) manually starts the overnight backup, and they don't want any stray records appearing overnight...

      1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

        The website is just a front end to a printer in an office that prints out a change form

    2. Groaning Ninny

      Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

      Sounds to me more like they have instances turned off overnight to save money.

      Appropriate for the nonprod systems, but production?

      The systems I know of are actually pretty damned good - the check for flooding one is used nationally (and deals with traffic spikes nicely) when we get crappy weather, and the password application service is simply awesome.

      1. Giles C Silver badge

        Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

        Password application system….. either that is a typo or government control is getting very weird…..

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

        Stopping OLTP workloads so OLAP jobs can be done?

        I’m not saying it is ‘right’, but it would save a lot of money.

    3. BrownishMonstr

      Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

      The website could just be a wrapper for some archaic, legacy system.

    4. Martin Summers

      Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

      I would imagine there's a few reasons. Reduced attack vector, so no-one can compromise the site and government systems whilst the site is effectively shut. Dodgy updates that would flag but can't be dealt with whilst the offices aren't open, and to allow office staff to be on hand for support if required.

    5. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

      Yep - can't even get things like PIP details online, you have to phone them up and wait for hours.

      Still, noone disabled could possibly have anything else to do, like a job...

      They can't even email documents at all - they can only request that they get printed and posted - I really don't need more paper...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

        In this case it's deliberate and intended to discourage you from applying

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

          PIP is already awarded on an "ongoing" basis (meaning it doesn't need a review for an extended time period, because my condition isn't going to change).

          It's just that blue badge application needs a "recent" letter... which is just daft, just have the system query DWP and get a "yes, meets criteria" or "no, doesn't" directly from my NI - it's not exactly rocket surgery. Or look at my previous application and see that it said "ongoing", and just reissue the badge.

    6. bumpbumpbump

      Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

      DVLA wewre in the process of modernising their services, however they have been somewhat sideswiped with brexit shenanigans

    7. xyz Silver badge

      Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

      You think that's crap, you should try the Policia Nacional site for foreigners in Spain... You can only book an appointment when the police station is open!! 9-14h and it's shut in the summer for 3 months and you can't go to one outside of where you live.

    8. simonlb Silver badge

      Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

      I recently renewed my drivers license on the DVLA site but initially couldn't access that part of the site as my browser blocks third-party cookies so I had to enable them for that site for it to work. However, I've never had any issues renewing my Road Tax (or whatever it's called these days), or when renewing my passport last year.

      It's inconsistencies like that which cause problems and annoy people.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

        "Road Tax (or whatever it's called these days)"

        It's been called Vehicle Excise Duty your whole life.

    9. Len
      Meh

      Re: If they *really* want to improve the experience....

      That's nothing. The only reasons I still have a fax is because I some times deal with American organisations and only a few years ago I had to fax a form and I could only fax it during (their) office hours while on the phone to the recipient because they had to walk to the fax machine to pick it up and confirm receipt. Someone needs to tell the US about this invention called the Internet.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FUCK the king twat

    more fucking money spaffed up the fucking wall for the fucking twat king

    1. Badbob

      Re: FUCK the king twat

      I’m sensing an undertone here

      1. upsidedowncreature

        Re: FUCK the king twat

        I didn't realise Harry was on here TBH.

      2. Michael Strorm Silver badge

        Re: FUCK the king twat

        I don't think that Feargal Sharkey singing "Fuck the king twat" is likely to be as big a hit as "Teenage Kicks", though.

    2. wolfetone Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: FUCK the king twat

      Diana? Is that you?

    3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: FUCK the king twat

      Crikey. Which Royal peed in your cornflakes?

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: FUCK the king twat

        Crikey. Which Royal peed in your cornflakes?

        The one without the prostate problems?

        1. wolfetone Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: FUCK the king twat

          Think you've got them pegged...

    4. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: FUCK the king twat

      Rab C. Nesbitt? Is that you?

    5. Michael Strorm Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: FUCK the king twat

      I assume you're waiting for the day that Charles' crown will be replaced with a stylised representation of a Roundhead's helmet, then?

      I mean, it could happen- given what happened to the first one, weren't they already tempting fate by putting the new King Charles' disembodied head on a 50p coin?

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: FUCK the king twat

        "Roundhead's helmet"

        Probably not the most politic to bring up the Lord Protector when the crown rests on head bearing the name of a rather less fortunate Stuart monarch.

        Cromwell is much maligned by the later writers of the victors' history and the Protectorate, by comparison with the current schmozzle, has much to recommend it (Ireland excepted.)

        1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          Re: FUCK the king twat

          > Probably not the most politic to bring up the Lord Protector when the crown rests on head bearing the name of a rather less fortunate Stuart monarch.

          Assuming you're referring to King Charles I (i.e. "the first one"), that *was* the entire point of the joke in the first place.

  5. Who-me

    Yeah...let's spend more tax payer's money on an unnecessary job. Not as though we need to be spending it on roads, railways, hospitals, schools, care homes, housing, military...well just about everything in this country really, as things are falling apart. Still, at least it's keeping some IT staff in a job.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Surprised you didn't mention baby incubators.

  6. Howard Sway Silver badge

    changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

    Good to know that with spending cuts resulting in crimes not being investigated and reduced military capabilities, they've at least got the time and money to do important things like changing millions of logos to a slightly different looking crown......

    Of course, just keeping on using the same crown logo would be far too sensible to contemplate - just imagine how hard it must be to live in countries that don't have to replace every single postbox, government form, uniform and banknote every time the head of state changes!

    1. Santa from Exeter

      Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

      Quote - just imagine how hard it must be to live in countries that don't have to replace every single postbox, government form, uniform and banknote every time the head of state changes!

      If you are in the UK, you do. My nearest postbox sill has GR on it (George for those who don't know postbox put up between 1910-1936)

      The 'old' banknotes and coins will only be withdrawn when they become too worn to use.

      1. Badbob

        Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

        In Scotland, you’re far more likely to find a GR or even VR postbox than an EIIR one.. We dont have the Elizabeth II cypher on post boxes as a general rule, nor do Royal Main vehicles have it on the side (occasionally a van will migrate from England with it, but vehicles delivered to Scottish DOs new don’t).

        They just show the crown of St Andrew (the symbol of the monarchy in Scotland, as seen on the late Queens coffin as she lay in rest in Edinburgh). It all stems from a brief angry nationalist/republican campaign a few decades back when it was noted that Betty 2 was not actually the second monarch of that name north of the border, and that the first had actually had our Queen, Mary, executed.

        Anyway, to boil it all down, the symbol of the monarchy in Scotland doesn’t change with the monarch. The St Andrews crown remains and in rare instances where it is used on its own, or as part of the Scottish coat of arms (few people notice that Scotland has its own coat of arms, distinct to that of England and Wales) will remain.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

          In Scotland, you’re far more likely to find a GR or even VR postbox than an EIIR one.

          There are still a few around the UK with Edward VIII, and he never even made it to a coronation.

          1. John Sager

            Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

            I once visited Baldock radio station and it is one of the very few government (now Ofcom) buildings opened by Edward VIII with a plaque to that effect.

            As for the Scots, Nemo Me Impune Lacessit!

    2. Martin Summers

      Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

      I think you'll find they'll do it gradually Howard, they don't just chuck stuff out. You'll note there are still post boxes knocking around with a pre Elizabeth deceased monarch on them. There are still other things going on in the world that don't just stop just because there's one problem somewhere else we think should be solved.

    3. upsidedowncreature

      Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

      I'm just relieved both the Head of Design and the Senior Interaction Designer were involved, it would be awful if an important change like this were to be under-resourced.

    4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

      "just imagine how hard it must be to live in countries that don't have to replace every single postbox, government form, uniform and banknote every time the head of state changes!"

      Such as the UK. My local postbox is a VR one, banknotes are changed very few years to keep up with note fraud, government forms are changed whenever the content in them changes, uniforms change whenever some HR spod wants to give a millinary contract to a mate.

      1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

        Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

        > My local postbox is a VR one

        They have postboxes in virtual reality as well?!

    5. Julian Bradfield

      Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

      As of the opening of Parliament in November, Charles hadn't even replaced the late Queen's cypher and crown on his own Admiral of the Fleet dress uniform epaulettes.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: changes to things like police and military uniforms, and signage on official buildings

      Don't worry, I'm sure Charles pays for these changes our of his own pocket.

  7. wolfetone Silver badge
    Coat

    Red Dwarf Time

    Are you sure Sir? It does mean changing the bulb icon.

  8. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Meh

    Minor

    For websites, wouldn't it simply mean uploading a new png to the path of the old png ?

    .

    Anyway this is small change compared to the ludicrous Gordon Brown's brief phase of changing the names of agencies etc. to the Soviet-inspired prefix of 'The People's'; as in The People's Post Office.

    Now that was embarrassing...

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: For websites, wouldn't it simply mean uploading a new png to the path of the old png ?

      Someone doesn't understand web caching....

  9. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Royal Cypher

    That's a phrase that can be interpreted in several different ways:

    noun: Cypher

    2 dated

    a person of no importance, especially one who does the bidding of others and seems to have no will of their own.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's just an image!

    Replace the file and done.

    <cynical>

    Real news would be providing compliment html. And getting rid of checks that are browser specific.

    Or is that just due to stupid requirements in the "request for tender"

    </cynical>

  11. Lazlo Woodbine

    Maybe once they've swapped the crown, they could spend a few bob on updating the DfE COLLECT website.

    Every time I have to upload a School Census I marvel at the time machine effect of zipping back to the days of Windows NT...

  12. spireite Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Be nice if they concentrated on making the websites work properly.

    If there was ever a demonstration that good UX designers are worth it, any GOV.UK hosted site demostrates why you should hire them.

    Without exception, the current lot is unwieldy, amateur, buggy....

    The logo ius a VERY long way down the implementation list - or it should be.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like