It needs to be low cost so the council is happy to change things quickly. Big investments lead to sticking with solutions that are possibly outdated or inappropriate, simply because of the money sunk.
Learn from where your site works well; find out where it doesn't work well and improve it. Make good use of customer feedback and site analytics to identify problems, and customer-focused solutions.
I know most meetings are considered important by the people in them but rather than just providing PDFs of a meeting it'd be great to be able to listen to the cut and thrust of a meeting as it happened.
Raw data of council meetings, statistics, records all available as Linked Data
When a user encounters an error page they should be able to click a link that automatically sends the necessary information to the webmaster. They should not have to read a page of instructions on where to find the information and expect them to put it all into an email.
Incomprehensible URLs that mean nothing on sight are not useful, but http://mycouncil.gov.uk/wards/edgbaston/councillors is self-explanatory, and good for google.
All pages on the website should make it easy for the user to vote as to whether it was useful or not, so poor content can easily be identified by the web team.
Don't spend £2.8mil on your website - use third party applications and services where possible (Google etc) to add value to your site without the need for scoping new features into your already bloated CMS.
There is nothing worse than being pushed to a service that's not technically part of the website and being met with an alien gui. If you're bringing another, developed service in (for example, The Meeting Factory on Lincoln's site - http://tmf.lincoln.gov.uk), skin it up to look like the rest of your site.
Encourage interactive interesting discussions about particular elements of a proposal - say, a new Local Plan - rather than shoving a large indigestible document out there and allowing the usual suspects to fire back a single (usually predictable) "response".
Although the user has been championed elsehwere, I think taking a holistic, iterative user centred approach is key to making a good website (as per the ISO standard 13407). This includes: 1. Defining the audiences and context of use. 2. Researching/defining user needs (using analytics, customer feedback, interviews, surveys, user testing on current site). 3. Designing the user experience based on user needs. 4. ...more »
Allow local residents to initiate petitions to council on the website.