Although many Councils are tied into licensed products which they have invested heavily in, it's worth planning ahead. Open source software offers a great deal of flexibility.
People go to council websites for information, not for pretty pictures and inflated egos. Forget about branding, forget about any sort of visual consistency. Instead just get the info out there, set out a consistent scheme for URIs and search-relevant features, then leaving everything else to the contributors. Then set up a search page with a truly configurable range of options (e.g. boolean, natlang, regex, ...) and ...more »
I know Newcastle City Council are already toying with the idea, but I may have a way for monetising all that decent traffic such sites generate via a self-serve DIY ad system, www.addiply.com You can see it in beta trail mode on www.TheLichfieldBlog.co.uk where both the local Tory MP, Michael Fabricant, is digitally engaging with his constituents and where Lichfield DC itself is due to follow suit. Beauty of Addiply ...more »
Good sites have an attractive, modern appearance that invites you to use them. Council sites should be no different.
Rich links (well-maintained) between "our" site and other local and national agencies' sites
Provide, core, relevant information first and most obviously, then provide more detailed information for those who want to drill down. Don't simply reproduce copy from brochures or other mediums verbatim with no additional editing. Assess what is genuinely useful for a 'browsing' user, not an essay-reading one.
Organisations should get e-newsletters working for them and the user:
- Make it easy for users to sign up from any page, get tailored info, manage subscriptions
- Actively engage the audience in consultations on that subject, user testing of those pages, growing the userbase etc
As a minimum: 1) Ensure Media/Press Centre link can be easily located on homepage 2) Media centre homepage should display an up-to-date list of the most recent press releases with date of publication. 3) Press releases should also be available to journalists via RSS and via registering for an email alert. 4) Provide archive of press releases by month and year. 5) Press releases should NOT be published as PDFs or Word ...more »
Publishing of information in formats other than (X)HTML should be resisted, while perhaps relaxing this for statutory documents that must be published by a local authority while not really being of general interest to the wider public. If your website has a section on downloading Adobe Acrobat Reader, or the various Microsoft Office viewers, you should consider it a failure.
Don't have a citizen have to search for the often needed and relevant information they are interested in e.g. next bin collection. Allow them to personalize the site e.g. postcode on the BBC site brings local news and weather to the front page. Even better, allow this information to be mashed up on other sites e.g. iGoogle so the citizen doesn't have to go to the website to read this inforamtion!
LGNL is not user friendly but is important for site indexing.
Offer multiple paths to allow users to find what they need quickly.
And RSS. But maybe I'll post that elsewhere.
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.