The government web strategy – back of a fag packet version

Those who actually read this blog regularly (or get cornered and bored by me in the real world…) know that I have been banging on about the need for a simply defined and well communicated government web strategy for a very long time.

Why? – because there is an awful lot going on in improving the government’s online offerings but it doesn’t seem to ‘hang together’ at the moment, it needs an overarching framework so that its easy to explain as a whole, rather than its constituent parts.

What got me thinking about this was the endless round of meetings that started about 18 months ago on the back of the transformational government agenda. Almost without exception, colleagues would confidently tell me that the government web strategy was all about ‘closing websites down’. Far from it. But because that initiative was so high profile with momentum and buy-in, thats exactly what it looked like.

Now, as other transformational government initiatives kick in – updating guidelines on managing sites, improving search across government sites, archiving digital information etc etc its becoming easier to see how the strategy fits together.

Government web isn’t unique in this regard. I’ve previously referenced Jeremiah Owyang’s work on why the corporate domain is increasingly irrelevant. Corporate domains in government are still important, but its just as essential to understand how to integrate other online channels into the mix.

At the recent heads of ecommunications meeting, there was a discussion about developing departmental web strategies and a call for those who have already developed them to share them with the network. That got me thinking that it would be an awful lot easier if there was a clear statement – call it what you will: strategy, framework, statement of intent – setting out government-wide priorities, channels, audience segmentation etc. This would then allow organisations across government to align themselves with it and take their lead from it.

So what follows here is an attempt to capture how I usually respond when people ask me, ‘ what is the government’s web strategy’? Call it a bar-stool or Mickey Mouse version if you like. Its not perfect (in any case, it changes every time I recite it), probably missing bits or not expressed quite right. But its a start. Grateful for any thoughts on how to improve it. Who knows, we might actually create a credible statement about what all this stuff we do is actually about:

GOVERNMENT WEB STRATEGY (rough guide)

The aim of the government web strategy is to improve the delivery of government information, services and engagement (ISE) online.

This will be achieved by:

  • Clearly defining online channels by audience and need
  • Ensuring online channels meet required government standards for accessibility, usability and other technical aspects
  • Ensuring ISE is easily findable and searchable by improving it visibility to search engines
  • Providing opportunities for interaction and engagement with government online.

PRIMARY DELIVERY CHANNELS and who they are for (this is not definitive but a rule of thumb)

Services and information for the citizen, other than healthcare. are delivered through DirectGov.

Healthcare information is delivered through NHS Direct/NHS Choices.

Services and information for business sectors are delivered through Businesslink.

Policy news, publications (reports, consultations etc) and corporate stakeholder engagement is delivered through departmental corporate domains.

Stakeholder/workforce specific ISE (guidance, resources etc) could be delivered through the corporate domain or via a standalone site dependent on the size/scale of the defined audience (e.g. armed forces specific domains but smaller groups of practitioners by the parent department).

CHANNELS FOR DRIVING TRAFFIC / INFORMING USERS

Info4local delivers tailored, opt-in messages to the wider public sector

Bespoke email marketing can be used for other tailored audiences

Syndication tools (e.g. RSS) can be used to inform and/or push information to users.

ENGAGEMENT CHANNELS

Social media tools can be used for a variety of purposes to generate engagement opportunities (e.g. in support of consultation, elicit feedback, collaborate etc)

Social networks can allow government to engage and interact with pre-existing communities.

ENABLING CHANNELS

search – improved standards for site/content optimisation allow users to find what they are looking for more easily.

Site user statistics – better standards of evaluating metrics allow us to tailor and improve online channels by user experience and usage.

Archiving content – improved standards on ensuring hyperlinks persist allows users to find older content and support the government record.

So thats about it. Not perfect – I’ll probably want to rewrite it in the morning but finally committed to paper(?).

What’s good/bad/missing/needs refining?

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    • Ed Erickson
    • September 25th, 2007

    Very nice Jeremy. Excellent thoughts.

    *Accessible and clear information* — crucial for a govt site yet so often the “falling down point.” This is the foundation.

    Once accomplished, implementation of *interaction and engagement* is a point of great maturation I think. Enabling community openness and engagement facilitates transparency and trust. Currently, it can be so challenging to have two-way communication with any agency or agency personnel. Social media will have a profound impact in this area I believe.

    It’s going to be interesting to watch this as it is increasingly implemented — then to see the reactions of those close-minded to such things. Early adopters will be the first to gain a great strength.

    Perception is so much of reality. Two-way communication really enhances the appreciation and trust factor that an agency needs to have.

    Wishing you the best in success in this area and curious to watch your implementation. I’m just a couple of months down the path of research on this for a corporate university structure we’ve stood up at a naval command here in the states. As the communication/marketing guy, my thoughts are very similar to yours. It’s very interesting to me to see how Ent 2.0 is a practical implementation of Peter Senge’s 5th Dicipline. Great reading btw.

    Cheers, Ed

  1. What’s missing? SEO for Minister’s names and bios, mate?

    Where’s the love for the politicians?

    Where’s the love for the lifers in the departments, the blokes who have built up those programs and don’t want to share the glory with any other department?

    🙂

  2. Thanks for the kind words Ed. Colin, you are so right 😉

    • Barry
    • October 1st, 2007

    Spot on Mr G. Hope you don’t mind if I start using it in the day job…

  3. Flattered. Plagiarism is the father of convention…..

    • carl
    • October 6th, 2007

    …hang on, hang on, you’ve not made it lengthy in delivery, overly complex, and costly to implement – it would never work…

  4. Dang, I knew there was something wrong. You’ve found the fatal flaw.

  5. Good stuff, however this one fails on Youtube.

    “Providing opportunities for interaction and engagement with government online.”

    Downingstreet user has switched off comments, really great interaction right there!

    It is interaction that is needed, people want it, people are fed up with one-way spoon fed information.

  6. Hey Chris, I’m not saying its perfect! My views not government policy but its something worth aiming for.

  1. January 11th, 2009

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