Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Choose Digital: Alpha

Today the sites we're producing as part of our Choose Digital Project moved into their Alpha phase. You can read about why we're creating two new sites, on the Choose Digital Blog.

We're inviting comment from local residents and businesses, peers in other local authorities and our own councillors and staff; in fact anyone who wants to. We've released templates for home pages, landing pages, services and information pages.

One of the first things you'll probably notice is a warning on every page. This is because the sites are far from finished, in fact they're barely started in terms of design, development and content. So why release a site to the public so early in the process?

I wrote in the past about the Government Service Design Manual and how some of it could be adapted for local governments. The basic framework for creating a digital service is something that certainly can be applied to every design and development process for a public facing service and where possible we've tried to stick to it.

Of course the Discovery> Alpha> Beta> Release timeline isn't new, but doing it so publicly is quite rare, as far as I've seen, for governments.

So please be as brutal as like with your observations, as long as you're constructive. If you don't like something, if you don't like anything, please tell me why and perhaps how you'd do it better. We're supporting screens down to 320px wide, negating the need to create expensive apps, so please do test the sites on smartphones and tablets.

Through this process we hope that we can make online services so good people want to use them, something I said back in June 2012 and which is at the heart of our Choose Digital Project.

We'll be releasing updates based on feedback and the Project Plan roughly every two weeks, for the next eight weeks and at the end we'll have enough to start creating a Beta.

You can see our new sites at alpha.westberks.gov.uk and alphainfo.westberks.gov.uk. You can feedback or start a discussion by emailing digital@westberks.gov.uk or on FacebookTwitter and Google+

Thanks in advance for any feedback you'd like to give.
This blog is written by Phil Rumens, Vice-Chair of LocalGov Digital, lead for LGMakers and who manages the digital services team at a local authority in England.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are my own personal views and in no way represent any organisation I may have worked for, currently work for, might be thinking of working for, might not be thinking of working for or have never worked for. In fact having said that they, might not even be my views any more as I might have changed my mind so I wouldn't take any of it too seriously.