User experience trumps aesthetics as a surprise winner for this year's design award is announced.
The Gov.uk site that brings together information and services from the UK government has won the Design Museum's Design of the Year 2013 prize. The site simplifies content that existed previously on a variety of different sites including Business Link and the eye-meltingly bright orange Directgov – and is being expanded over time to include all government departments.
Gov.uk puts user experience that the core of what it aims to achieve – so while the site clearly not being given the Design Museum's prize for its aesthetics, it's much quicker and easier for users to find the services they want – especially commonly used facilities such as passport and car tax renewal. One prime example of this from when the site launched in October last year was the placement of a banner in the centre of the site informing users that the clocks would go back an hour on October 28 as Britain returned to Greenwich Mean Time – the most popular and needed information by users according to the site's creators.
The site also applied standard UX procedures to the way users interact with the government's often labyrinthine bureaucracy – dividing the sections of the site by the tasks visitors would want to use the site for rather than by what government department they were interacting with.
Gov.uk was created by the Government Digital Service (GDS) under the director of head of design – and ex-Wieden + Kennedy design director – Ben Terrett.
In a statement, prime minister David Cameron said "I am delighted that the Gov.uk website has won the Design of the Year Award 2013. For the first time, people can find out what's happening inside government, all in one place, and in a clear and consistent format. It is just another example of Britain's world class design talent standing out on the global stage."
The site's win could be considered a surprise, following last year's win by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby's elegantly beautiful London 2012 Olympic Torch (below) – and the Plumen light bulb the year before. However, in the past the prize has been given to designs that are about function and purpose over form, such as the 2008 win for the One Laptop Per Child project to create low-cost laptops for developing countries.
Gov.uk also won the Digital category. Other category winners included the Venice Architecture Biennale identity by John Morgan Studio (below top) in the Graphics category, and Vitamin Design's folding wheel (as used in the Morph collapsible wheelchair, below bottom).
You can see many of the nominated and winning designs at The Designs of the Year 2013 exhibition until July 17 at the Design Museum's current home at Shad Thames on the South Bank, London. The museum will be moving to its new home at the old Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Kensington in 2014.