Talking Local Gov websites

Leeds canal – more picturesque than expected!

I recently had the chance to go to Local Gov Camp in Leeds. Local Gov Camp is an unconference hosted by Local Gov Digital where lots of local government (and otherwise engaged) folks turned up to run sessions on whatever they felt the need to discuss. Sessions ranged from service design, to open source LEGO and much more besides. (Check out the Local Gov Digital site for some great information on the camp as a whole!)

I pitched a session to look at website navigation. As we are about to start trying to pull our new site navigation together, I wanted to hear what other councils are doing.

The session itself ended up looking at a lot of different ideas around council websites, with some great contributions from Sarah Lay over at Nottinghamshire Council, where they just went live with a new site.

Whilst there was no one output from this session, a lot of what we discussed needs to be considered during our redevelopment project. Some of the key points follow:

  • If we ensure that our content works in search, we can reduce down landing pages and hierarchical structures.
  • We are making assumptions all the time as what people want to do. In doing this, we need to make sure we are clear about what they actually need to do. This then must be clearly reflected in our user journeys, so customers can understand and complete their task.
  • Language is fundamental. The site needs to reflect the natural language of the customer and not ‘council-speak’.
  • The website is a digital interface into the whole council and has to work for the customer first, not the service team.
  • Don’t force everything online. The soft approach with some services works better. Some people need to see people.

These ideas now need to inform the workshops we run with service teams, the content we present and the approach we take to the site as a whole. I know I will certainly be thinking about these ideas as we move through the project and will encourage our whole team to do the same.

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