Iterating content at speed

As a small unitary authority, we do not have the same issues as teams working to provide clear and concise coronavirus related information to the public at a large scale. The teams at GDS and the NHS have been doing an absolutely amazing job creating content for the nation in a way that continues to be clear and easy to follow.

However, that’s not to say that we haven’t been having to work hard to make sure that our public website continues to reflect the latest situation and signpost our residents and businesses to the information they need.

We’ve gone from one or two tentative notices about delays in service, to a fully fledged section of content in less than 10 days. That’s on top of all the other work our small content team have been working on.

Projects are being pushed to one side, we’re working closer with our comms team than we have before, and we’re getting the information out there.

We started with a very short, simple page in late February.

This grew over the next couple of days as more information started coming out from the government.

In less than a month though, it went from a signposting exercise to a full page of service information. Here’s just one part of this page from mid March.

At this point, some services were still open, a situation that rapidly changed over the coming days.

Working with our communications team, we attempted to remain on top of the situation and make sure the page provided as up-to-date information on services as we had available. With information coming in from any number of teams, this wasn’t always easy. It also involved several late nights and early mornings to make sure we were on top of things.

Fast forward into the first week of lockdown and we were in a situation where our single page of content wasn’t helpful anymore. It was simply too long and too complex to provide all this information in one place.

We had to work out how to create a section of content that was simple to signpost to, as well as provide all the information in a clear way.

After some different thoughts, we’ve now ended up with a complete section of content, with specific pages for service updates. We’ve also included those key public health notices to make sure customers can get a clear message around staying at home.

The most complex part of this for us was working out just how to organise the service updates from across the council. Being a unitary authority we have a wide range of diverse services. In the end, we decided to match our updates to our site structure.

Each section has a specific area for updates. This will hopefully help our residents to make sense of the updates in a way that is familiar to them from the rest of the site. It also allows us to make sure all this information is clearly signposted from each area of the site.

We hope that this information helps our customers find out what is going on in the local area in relation to council services. This might need further iterations, depending on what happens at the end the first three weeks of lockdown and what service information comes our way.

In the meantime, we’re taking a moment to catch our breath.

Stay home, stay safe, and keep well.