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Showing posts from May, 2014

A new platform for LocalGov Digital

Last week a project I'm managing launched two new websites, this week I'm part of a group that's launching a new beta website for LocalGov Digital.

We aim for the new LocalGov Digital website to become both a voice and a resource for digital practitioners working in local government.

It's the new home for the Content Standards, which aim to help content designers create local government websites in easy to understand, plain English. It's the new home for the guide on how to share code, helping digital practitioners work more collaboratively. Both these and more come under the LocalGov Makers banner, the design and development network from LocalGov Digital.

More than that just a resource though, it's a voice for digital practitioners bringing together tweets, blogs and more from those who work on the digital front line, in or around local governments, through Sarah Lay's creation, LocalGov Digital Voice.

We hope that a regular audience will return to see wha…

A Tale of Two Websites

Sunday night, 7pm, 19 May, we launched our new websites, www.westberks.gov.uk and info.westberks.gov.uk, the products of a project called Choose Digital.

I'm going to tell the story of the culmination of a year's work and a whole lot more planning, though past posts on my blog and those that helped inspire it.

We start back in 2011 when I was thinking about the next generation of local government websites. Perhaps one site wasn't enough to publish information, engage with people and deliver digital services. I looked at the retail sector and originally thought about creating "customer" and "shareholder" or in the case of local governments, "citizen" websites.

It wasn't until we asked what the purpose of each site was, we decided on a service or "doing stuff" site (www), and an information or "reading about stuff site" (info).

So that's the sites themselves but also in 2011 I started thinking about content, not as w…

People, Personas and the Unpredictable

A few weeks ago I spoke at an event in London about the LocalGov Digital Content Standards and how they're helping councils make better websites.

Another talk covered user testing and the speaker showed a picture of session they'd helped facilitate. In the picture however, there were no real users, just personas.

Wikipedia describes a persona as "a social role or a character played by an actor" and it's not uncommon for digital teams to create persons to help them design the content, taxonomy and other aspects of their sites.

So in the picture I saw, council staff were interviewing other council staff who were role playing users. Now, there's nothing unusual about this in usability testing, however when I asked if they'd tested with real users the reply was "No, we tried that and they're too unpredictable".

This seemed bizarre and reminded me of an example of unpredictably that excluded someone from using one of digital services.

When we cre…