Our new website

Screengrabs of our new corporate website pages building a site map on the wall of the office. Its coming together slowy but surely.

Posted by ShoZu

When site usage stats are really important…

We’re not brilliant at analyzing site user stats in our department for a number of reasons; we don’t really have the expertise for sophisticated drilling down into the data, we don’t have enough people to dedicate a single person to the job, we’re too busy keeping our sites afloat, when people higher up the food chain or in parliament ask us for information they invariably want to know how many ‘hits’ and how much it all cost.

We also have various commitments and undertakings as part of government to make information available online so in that context, how important are topline figures?

The answer today was ‘more important than anything else you are currently doing’. Right in the middle of preparing for the most important site launch my team has worked on in the last three years I received a request for information that cannot be ignored.

Although we regularly log and interrogate data for our main site, we don’t need to look at the stats for some of our smaller sites on quite such a frequent basis – until someone demands to know. So I spent a great chunk of today wrestling with our web statistics application trying to answer the question – and so avoid dragging any of the team away from more important activities.

Ho hum, all part of the service!

Building a new corporate web presence

I mentioned before that one of my current priorities is leading the creation of a new website for my department, who effectively cease to exist next week to be replaced by a new organisation with a wider remit.

Needless to say, things are exceedingly busy at the moment trying to get the functionality and content as perfect as possible for launch. So far its all going to plan but its going to be a busy weekend.

It’s a credit to the team that they have managed to produce the site within such a tight timetable and without (mostly) losing their sense of humour. There is still a lot to do, and there will a whole load of new challenges after site launches, but they have proved that they are more than capable in their respective areas of expertise.

Having set the scene, I’ll try and post more about the pre-launch period as the week (and weekend) unfolds.

Playing the engagement game

I’ve been following David Wilcox‘s work for some time and was lucky enough to be invited along to workshop yesterday where we got to play with the engagement game that David has been developing with Drew Mackie.

The game is designed to help organisations design engagement projects by focusing on objectives / rationale and stakeholder groups and then matching the appropriate communication methods. The game has changed a lot over the last year from early versions I saw on David’s blog – there is now no board which requires a bit more thought from workshop participants and there is a real focus on developing the story of the issue and the proposed (hoped for?) progress of the engagement programme.

I can see how the game would have real application within government, as well as outside, in helping policy teams to understand the importance of designing engagement programmes strategically and considering all possible options before they go diving in.

In particular, the inclusion of many social media methods into the game was instructive – not least because it teaches participants that none of this is an add on and that all activity requires resource, commitment and time.

My current work priorities

There’s always a lot going on, as you’d expect, but there are three things going on at the moment that are taking up most of my time:

A new website for a new department – my current employer effectively ceases to exist on 8 May and will be replaced by a new government department. My team and I are working furiously to build and test a new corporate website to launch on 9 May.

Website rationalisation – you may have seen this announcement a few months ago. Needless to say, it means a lot of work for the likes of me.

Social media review – helping the Cabinet Office to understand government’s role and legitimacy in this space. Interesting work and a chance to actually spend time and talk with experts whose work I find interesting but never normally have time to follow up. I’ll write more about this shortly.

Why this civil servant is blogging

For the last few months I have been assisting the Cabinet Office with a review of social media – looking at how government currently uses it, as well as the potential opportunities it poses in the future.  In my day job I also get asked fairly regularly by other civil servants how they go about setting up a blog.

I know enough about this area to point them in the direction but have come to the conclusion that to have any real credibility I ought to actually start writing a blog about my work that can hopefully provide pointers and advice to others working in the government (and wider public sector) web world.

This isn’t my first attempt at blogging but it is the first time I have written stuff about my professional life.