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The Census: a model of clear design

A bit of a public service announcement combined with a case study today. This Sunday sees the ten-yearly Census in the UK, which every household must complete or face a serious fine. Naturally the government is hoping that as many people as possible will complete it online. Last time (2011), online census form completions ranged from under 10% in one part of Wales to about 30% in one London borough. This year should see a marked difference. The idea is that it’s a snapshot of this Sunday, but you can do it in advance, so if you haven’t filled yours in yet, you’ll need to dig out the access code printed on a letter you were sent about it a couple of weeks back. If you don’t have this code, you’ll need to request a new code at the Census website.

The case study is the census form itself. I know I’ve gone before on about how good the UK government’s websites are, but this is exceptional. One clear question per page, simple answers, and a model of clear design, regardless of the device you’re using to complete it.

There is absolutely no reason why any business cannot model their website forms on what the government does. So if you haven’t done the Census yet, take a look at a form on your own site first, then bear that comparison in mind when you complete the Census.

The Census website is here.