Point 14 of the Digital by Default Service Standard says “Encourage all users to use the digital service (with assisted digital support if required), alongside an appropriate plan to phase out non-digital channels/services.”
This post describes how we’re working to make GOV.UK Verify - which is an entirely digital way to prove who you are - the default way to prove your identity online when accessing government services. That means that any digital service that needs to know who you are will be accessible through GOV.UK Verify.
GOV.UK Verify is for everyone - we have about 50 services in our pipeline preparing to adopt it. As services adopt GOV.UK Verify over time they will be able to phase out other ways of verifying people’s identity (mostly these are manual checking processes, like asking people to send identity evidence in the post or show it in person at a counter service.)
Because GOV.UK Verify forms part of many services, each with their own characteristics and groups of users, rather than being a service in its own right, we look at this question from the perspective of users trying to access services through GOV.UK Verify, rather than from the perspective of all users of GOV.UK Verify.
Our responsibilities in that context are:
- to make GOV.UK Verify work for as many people as possible
- to make GOV.UK verify work as straightforwardly as possible for people
- to help departments implement GOV.UK Verify in ways that are likely to work well for users
- to help departments design effective assisted digital support for the GOV.UK Verify elements of their services
To do this, we draw together GOV.UK Verify performance data with our findings from user research and feedback from users, and work directly with each service planning to use GOV.UK Verify, to build a rich picture of how GOV.UK Verify is working, where it could be improved, and what support might be required for users of each service.
Each service is responsible for designing and providing assisted digital support for those who are not able to use online services independently. That includes the GOV.UK Verify element of each service. However, we’re here to help services understand user needs in relation to GOV.UK Verify and design assisted digital support to meet those needs.
Making GOV.UK Verify work for as many people as possible
In January we blogged about work we did with the Office of National Statistics to estimate what proportion of the public will be able to use GOV.UK Verify. The results of this work, combined with the performance data, have helped to inform how we direct users towards certified companies that are likely to be able to verify them.
We’re not able to verify everyone yet using GOV.UK Verify but we’re working to make it possible for people to use a range of evidence to prove who they are and certified companies are introducing new methods all the time. Once GOV.UK Verify goes live we expect 90% of the overall UK adult population to be able to use it.
Making GOV.UK Verify work as straightforwardly as possible
We’ve been working on the design of the GOV.UK Verify user journey throughout the life of the service, iterating and improving it to make it as clear and straightforward as possible for users.
As part of the work to improve GOV.UK Verify, we have been running A/B tests on specific pages in the journey to look at new ways to describe GOV.UK Verify and how to make it clearer for users what evidence they will need to verify.
Helping departments implement GOV.UK Verify in ways that are likely to work for users
GOV.UK Verify works best for users when it is implemented as an integrated part of a transformed digital service.
When users are given a choice between using an offline or online service, there needs to be a compelling reason for them to try the digital option. Each digital service needs to be so good that people choose to use it and can see the benefit of securely accessing it through GOV.UK Verify.
For example, if accessing a service online will clearly save you time, effort or money, and it’s clear to you why your identity needs to be verified to protect you from someone pretending to be you, then you are much more likely to be willing to spend an initial 10 minutes verifying your identity than if that’s not the case.
We’re learning all the time, and we’re continuing to work with departments as they integrate with GOV.UK Verify to share what we’ve learnt so far and help them to build identity assurance into their services in the best way.