Our website is visited by over 700,000 people each year, viewing over five million pages.
We recently ran a discovery phase looking at the website as a whole and how this serves people. It has become clear that there is an opportunity to redesign the website aligning it to residents’ and business’ needs, and delivering significant benefits to both.
Through this work we identified six broad groupings of content on the website:
- Corporate Information: who we are, what we do, and how well we’re doing it.
- Engagement: news, events, consultations, and campaigns.
- Advice and Guidance: provision of advice to residents and businesses.
- Enablement: Directory/marketplace of council and third-sector services, arranged into ‘communities’ or ‘Local Offers’.
- Life Events: Helping residents and businesses to self-serve based on things happening to them – for which we have an application in alpha.
- Democratic services: supporting the democratic process.
Looking at Enablement in more detail.
One of the ways the council can enable residents to achieve outcomes like ‘ready for school’, ‘ready for work’ etc. is to give residents access to a broader marketplace of services which includes commercial and third-sector suppliers. In addition to reducing direct demand, this would also in-directly support communities and residents’ resilience.
Furthermore, the council has some statutory obligations to provide signposting for residents to third party providers, SIGN and SEND local offers being two examples.
The voluntary and community sector also benefits from additional publicity for their work.
Through our research it emerged that the council is a very well respected brand – people trust the events and activities on the website because they appear to have been endorsed by the council. However, there is little in the way of process for determining which external content should (and should not) be linked to.
This presents a number of challenges:
- How do we decide which content to link to?
- How do we work with external organisations to help them communicate their offer to our residents?
- How do we make the most of these links and services so they’re not constrained to one part of the organisation, but are instead are available to people who need that service wherever they access that website from?
- How we could integrate enablement within our ‘Life Events’ approach and application.
Strong communities are part of ‘enabling’ people to help themselves, and celebrating community achievements helps create a sense of vibrancy and hope, which in turn supports resilience. People also spoke of their desire for the website to celebrate what was going on in the community and to connect people. Some felt that there was little on the existing website which gives much sense of a community.
We want to:
- explore ‘Enablement’ further with a view to using our research to further develop the work we have done with the SIGN directory and expanding this further to other ‘Local Offers’ where appropriate.
- produce assets that will be reusable by other local authorities. In particular, we aim to produce a user research report that:
- gives us an understanding how we could decide which content to link to;
- how best we could work with external organisations to help them communicate their offer to our residents;
- how we could make the most of these links and services so they’re not constrained to one part of the organisation, but are instead are available to people who need that service from wherever they access that website; and
- How we could integrate and make the most of the enablement opportunity within our ‘Life Events’ approach and application.
- Use this discovery work to inform the creation of standards and service patterns for this particular grouping of information the council provides and develop a prototype from this.
- Digital leadership training (for council leaders, service managers or senior executives)
- Introduction to user research
- Introduction to service design
- Introduction to product management