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GOV.UK wins Design of the Year.

And for good reason.

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Do you know what I like about this site? Apart from everything? It’s the site’s pure simplicity.

All too often, you get websites that are so bloated and over designed that you scream for something that doesn’t deploy parallax scrolling, that isn’t swathed in gradients and that isn’t filled with stock image after stock image after stock image. The new gov.uk site is the antithesis of pretty much everything you’ll see on the FWA (not saying that all those sites are awful, they’re not) – it’s clean, it’s considered, it’s flipping brilliant. It does what it needs to do effortlessly, and without all the fluff that most of us add to every single bit of design; the drop shadows, the bevels, the textures – the dribbble essentials if you will.

I love that it takes it’s influences from the right places (taken from Creative Review);

Government projects that are well designed, that have stood the test of time and are copied around the world. The Festival of Britain, Kenneth Grange’s work on InterCity, the tube map – in that style of diagrammatic design, it’s obvious to me that it is ‘user-focused’. It’s so effortless that you ignore it now, you don’t even notice it’s designed.

And I love that it takes those influences and brings them bang into the now;

…it explicitly cements a relationship with the achievements of the past by making use of a new version of the classic 1950s typeface Transport, originally designed by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert for use on British motorway signs. Calvert worked on a new version of the face for GOV.UK with London studio A2/SW/HK.

Just as good is the process behind the site. If you follow Ben Terrett’s blog, you’ll have seen little snips of the day to day workings in the Government Digital Service. For me, hiring Terrett was a master stroke, he’s so switched on – the More Ideas, Less Stuff article he wrote for the Guardian back in 2009 is great. Read it.

Anyway – less about my design crushes, and more on the site, and the example it makes about THE IDEA being the most creative thing about a project and not the finished article itself. I love that this site is being championed as ‘good design’, this will hopefully cause a bit of shift in the day to day acknowledgment of what good design actually is. It’s not about throwing a load of semiotics with more Photoshop effects than you can shake a stick at applied to it, it’s about answering the brief the right way without clogging up or diluting the original idea. I don’t think ‘less is more’ I just think it’s more a case of if ‘less’ is what it takes to work, then ‘less is enough’.

You can read more about the GDS here.

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