Governance of Britain site launches

If you read Simon’s blog, you’ll know that we launched our newest project yesterday – a campaign site to support the Governance of Britain.

This is a wide ranging programme of activity, events and consultations designed to re-establish the relationship between the State and citizens: it covers everything from when the Union flag should fly above government buildings through whether we should vote at weekends to who should decide when the country goes to war.

The site was created in WordPress to take advantage of the functionality that the platform offers out of the box – such as strong syndication options, and the ease in which it can be maintained and updated. It has four main functions:

  • aggregate news, speeches, publications etc published elsewhere on the government web estate (the programme has over 60 work strands so quite a few departments have an interest in this), what I’ve been describing as ‘signpost, don’t host’ (sure I’m not the first to come up with that…)
  • Provide notifications of future events, and publish content from previous events – we’re hoping to use video, stills, audio and written feedback here
  • A led discussion space covering a variety of subjects related to the programme (this isn’t live yet, but will be visible in the new year when other elements of the programme begin)
  • Acknowledge, highlight and signpost articles, conversations etc elsewhere on the web around the programme’s themes.

The last one is the most interesting part of the site for me. We really hope that this recognition of conversations will in turn encourage and stimulate debate around the various themes. Because its using Delicious to deliver the content, it means that users can easily contribute content to the debate and can also view the full feed (we’ll only publish a representative sample of the many feeds and news alerts we have set up due to time and space considerations).

I’m really pleased with the site – it looks (as) good (as it could given the design constraints), it was devised and built at breakneck speed,  and it works.

There are still a few tweaks we want to make to the site, and hopefully it will develop functionality as the progamme itself develops. Let me know if you have any comments on the site, either below or by email if you’re shy.

    • Ross Ferguson
    • December 11th, 2007

    Know this has been a while in the making. Congrats on getting it up and live.

    I’m digging the general simplicity of the site. I specifically like ‘What others are saying’. Not seen this on previous state-run sites. It’s a good signpost for users of the site, but it could also help with the media monitoring by comms and policy teams.

    I’m not digging the design though. It’s too flat and the black gives it an old-school feel. I think design should be a particular concern for you given the dry-nature of the subject matter.

    I understand that on first-reflection it might be hard to get together a good design given the subject matter; but there are, in fact, lots of relevant iconography and use of patterns you could use. One obvious route would be to base it on ‘subjects’.

  1. Thanks for the feedback Ross. At the moment, the design follows the branding used on the hard copy consultation documents – because that’s all we had.

    Hopefully we can progress the site and introduce images created at offline events, but that’s all for the future at the moment.

  2. I do really like the site, the functionality and simplicity. Can you keep us updated on the searchability/findability – when searching for Governance of Britain I get a bewildering number of results. Would be great to see how this WordPress site settles in to the search engines.

    • Jane O’Loughlin
    • December 11th, 2007

    Congratulations on the launch.

    Great to see govt site using WordPress and delicious. It is clear and easy to find information quickly. Do agree with Ross on the design though, the block of black colour is hard on the eyes. And please could the italics text be changed to normal?

    Looking forward to seeing the new additions to the site in the new year.

  3. I accept that that’s the reality. It raises the issue of how all the ‘channels’ – print, online, TV etc. – are all integrated.

    I think you’ve laid down a good foundation to develop the site as the engagement around GoB unfolds.

  4. I must admit, if there’s one aspect I’d like to have had time to improve, it’s the visuals… but as Jeremy said, we’ve tried to stick to the rules laid down in the print styleguide. And besides, it’s public money. ‘Good enough’ is good enough, and all that.

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