Archive for the ‘ site builds ’ Category

New Ministry of Justice site goes live

Its been a long time in the gestation, but the latest iteration of the Ministry of Justice website just went live.

Ministry of Justice website mark 2

It looks fantastic, well done the team.

Governance of Britain – an update

There is so much going on at the moment that I completely forgot to point you to the fact that we have updated the Governance of Britain campaign site that we launched last December. I say we, but I have personally had very little to do with it this time round.

Luckily Simon Dickson is still involved and the refreshed site looks much more like the kind of thing we envisioned first time round (when we only had a few days to lash it together). Well done Simon for making it happen.

We’ve now got two new elements on the site designed to engage users – prominent use of video and a deliberative discussion area. The idea is that both will be updated regularly and will feed off each other, video representing the real world conversations and events, the site for online. Be interesting to see how it works out.

Do we need to better explain what we do?

Last week I was presenting the results of some user testing and prototype design to a group of executives, including senior IT and marketing people.

The session went pretty well (it should have done, the work is robust and very high quality). At the end, the assembled group were pressed for comments. Two of them stuck in my craw:

“Can we be confident the site will work on my blackberry?”

– Hmm, multi-platform, multi-browser delivery of content. Well I’d never thought of that…..

“Is the site future proofed so it will do things like podcasts”.

– Aargh!

I left wondering, how much is it our responsibility to educate our colleagues about our role as webbies in understanding the various technologies, methods of delivery etc rather than just been seen as electronic publishers? And how much is it their responsibility to ensure they are up to date with changes in their working environment?

I’d love to invest a large chunk of my time in bringing people up to speed on the evolving world of digital communications, but I do have a day job too which makes this diffcult in a world of ever tightening budgets and pressures on headcount.

Is it wrong of me to expect others to invest their own time in improving their knowledge? After all, they have busy professional lives too. Methinks I need to divert some of my energies to some internal training….

Wales Office – WordPress-ive

Yesterday finally saw the launch of another project I’ve been working on a long time, a new website for the Wales Office.

The Wales Office is part of my department’s ‘family’ for pay and rations purposes and I don’t think anyone would be offended there if I said that their previous online presence was showing its age. I talked with them early last summer about the need to create a new site for them. But at the time I’d just finished developing our new corporate website and didn’t have the appetite or the resource to help them.

But I did know someone who did – Simon Dickson. He’d been grumbling about some proof of concept work he’d done for another government department using WordPress as the content management system that hadn’t been picked up. I didn’t want it to all go to waste so we talked about taking what he’d done and using it for the Wales Office.

It didn’t quite work out that way as Simon produced something infinitely better than his earlier attempt. I can’t take any credit for the way the project was realised – Simon got the bit between his teeth and delivered a fantastic site with all the rich functionality and general goodness that WordPress offers.

Its a testament to the trust of the Wales Office that they bought into the concept and as a consequence now have a fantastic corporate site that should be the envy of other Whitehall departments. Simon tells more here.

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.

Background to the new Ministry of Justice website part 2

Before I jump back into the issue of the permissive environment required for civil servants to blog, I thought I had better finish off the story of the building of the new Ministry of Justice (MoJ) website (part 1 here).

March 29th the government announced that the MoJ was going to be established from May 9. By this point we were well into developing the site as had been noticed by an eagle eyed observer.

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Background to the Ministry of Justice website part 1

I promised to give you some detail about our new website, so here it is, part 1.
None of the team working on the Department of Constitutional Affairs website were involved in its initial development or design. While it was a big improvement on it’s predecessor its architecture was a problem for those of us who inherited it – the navigation pretty much mirrored the organisational structure at the time and as this changed over time due to machinery of government changes, the technical construction of the site made it difficult for us to reflect this in the navigation.

We had a pretty good idea who our primary audience is from user research and feedback – practitioners in the sectors we serve (especially legal professionals), but the media and researchers are also important groups for us.

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