Building perfect council websites 2012

At this year's Building Perfect Council Websites conference, Jadu's Senior UX Designer Christina Fowler took two round table discussions with people from all across local government. These are the notes from the discussions:

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Content Strategy

What is it?

Content strategy covers a mass of things relating to your website's content including:

  • Tone of voice
  • Reading age
  • Consistency across all content
  • Hierarchy of content (to LGNL or not to LGNL)
  • Metadata
  • Search Engine Optimisation, and of course...
  • the PURPOSE of your content!

Who has a good content strategy?

  • GOV.UK have an excellent content strategy (write less, say more) and they have kindly blogged all about their strategy and more at digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk
  • Liverpool.gov.uk are a current poster child in Local Gov and have made excellent use of landing pages. They've even been sharing their icons and styles with other Local Gov such as Oldham and Warrington
  • Camden

How do you write a content strategy?

  • Look at your analytics
  • Decide on the 20% of content that you will put 80% of effort into
  • Make that 20% as task orientated as possible, and cut out the crap!

What is the process?

Here is GOV.UK's process that they shared via their blog:

  • Identify user needs through analytics
  • Write content draft
  • Get it reviewed by someone else
  • Fact check
  • Publish
  • Review analytics
  • Iterate

Useful links

Responsive Web Design

What is it?

"Web page layouts that adapt to a variety of screen sizes"

Luke Wreblowski

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is not just about mobile and desktop: we need to think about large screens, tablets, TVs, Nintendo DS, and whatever else the future throws at you.

In order to do that we need to say goodbye to pixel perfection - perfect horizontal alignment, "the fold" and images for rounded corners or shadows. Websites do not, and should not, look the same in all browsers.

It's highly important to give a lot of thought to your content in all of those devices. A long page on a desktop is a massively long page on a mobile device.

Who is doing it?

  • Boston Globe - one of the first sites to do RWD, they have a lot of content and a lot of visitors - just like Local Gov.
  • Lancs.ac.uk - the site that inspired me to start designing responsively for Local Gov clients. A recent Jadu site to go live that uses RWD is Northampton.gov.uk

How do you do it?

  • Media queries in your CSS (Media queries say "at larger screen sizes show this", "at smaller sizes hide this", etc.)
  • Optimised content - optimised for all of those possible devices, not just desktop.
  • Javascript can be used to help decrease page load, and add fancy features to make things feel more "native".

What is the process?

  • Identify key break points (which screen sizes are most popular on your site) via your analytics.
  • Sketch wireframes of the mobile, desktop, tablet and large screen versions of your site.
  • Review
  • Build in HTML (no photoshop mock ups!)
  • Publish
  • Review the analytics
  • Iterate

Discussion topics

  • Responsive vs Apps
    Native apps are great for simple tasks such as "Report it" but can be expensive to produce as you need a version for each platform. Web apps that use javascript or other technologies are a great way to create a mobile version relatively quickly. Responsive web design is about keeping you future proof and focusing not only on the mobile but on the plethora of device possibilities that are out there today and tomorrow.
  • Issues against Responsive Design
    Responsive design is not a bolt on or a plugin, it's a strategy that needs to be implemented at the beginning of the project.

Useful links

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