On Friday 29 July 2005 Northampton Borough Council unveiled its new website. The website was created thanks to a successful partnership between the council, Jadu and neighbouring authorities with support from the IDeA
With an increased emphasis on content and
accessibility, the new website saw vast improvements in navigation,
information and usability, and makes a huge leap forward in meeting the
government's Best Value Performance Indicators for E-Government.
The first step in the redevelopment of the website was to examine and
define the objectives for the website. E-Government experience was
brought in from Peak Performance Consulting who were employed as project managers to work with the council's e-Government team.
To achieve the transformation required, a new website platform was
needed. Working with the Northamptonshire Community Portal Partnership (www.connect2northamptonshire.com) a large number of web tools were assessed.
An important feature of the website is the simplicity of the interface
and publication process. Enabling devolved content ownership to each
service provider requires a system with content management
functionality to enable content authors to easily submit information to
Jadu offered an easy to use interface,
full web accessibility options, and modules enabling greater provision
of online services, and experience of developing websites for other
Northamptonshire local authorities.
project manager said, 'Where Jadu impressed us was its core
functionality supporting the classification of content against LGCL and
LGSL, 'out of the box' eGIF compliance with accessibility standards.
With recommendations from neighbouring councils we were confident that
we had a product that would provide a high quality service to the
citizens of Northampton.'
Given the challenging
timescales, a textbook approach to creating a devolved content
management environment was not going to be possible. Working with staff
from neighbouring councils, Northampton identified a fast track
approach which built upon the work already undertaken by its partners.
Generic content, online forms, A-Z entries and FAQ's were all shared. A
small team at Northampton customised the content with local
information. Where specific local content already existed or was
already in development it was migrated into the Jadu environment.
Simultaneously, Jadu's designers worked on the look and feel and basic
navigation for the site.
Clive Thomas, Northampton
Borough Council director for Enabling Northampton, said, 'It had been
identified that a crucial aspect in the success of the website would be
getting content authors to take ownership of the information about
their service. As the site went live much of the content was generic,
however, authors quickly began to populate their areas with information.'
The Northampton website now has over 1,500 fully accessible pages of
content produced by 30 content authors, and three webmasters. Visitors
can navigate the website in six different ways to find the information
they are looking for.
The improvements have already been recognised in the Local Government Website Rankings Table. Leaping up 358 places, Northampton's site is now amongst the top 50 local authority websites.
Councillor Jamie Lane, Northampton Borough Council cabinet member for
E-Government said, 'The redevelopment of our website represents a
significant step forward in providing information and services to
citizens. Websites have become a key means of delivering services and
communicating. A website allows the council to offer services 24/7, and
it is vital that information is not only high quality but also