Rethinking our website

website

This is the first of hopefully many posts on how we’re making our website fit for local residents and businesses. We’re really having a deep think about what constitutes a good website and also what makes a great council website.

Why a website redesign?

People have told lots of us via Twitter/phones/email/to our faces (and no doubt behind our backs!) that the current site is difficult to navigate, the writing is a bit pompous, some links and pages aren’t easy use.

We’re aiming to work in a far more effective way, thinking about what matters to Monmouthshire people, working with them to make things better and not assuming the way we do things is how it has to be – we’re embracing changes if they make life in Monmouthshire better. Our website should reflect that – but at the moment we think it’s a bit ‘inward looking’ reflecting our internal departments rather than the needs of users.

More and more people are using the web and we want our website to be as useful as possible – not least because the cost of getting information from a website is lots less than a phonecall, letter or face-to-face contact.

Research

Web experts, Joel Hughes & Russel Britton – who are helping us redesign the website, did some independent research. They asked councillors, local businesses and Monmouthshire people what they really think of our current website – the great and the terrible. It was illuminating to say the least. We’ll blog the full details of what people said but in summary they wanted the website to:

  • be simple and easy to use;
  • be clearly written without jargon;
  • have more two-way conversation, including contact details of the most relevant person to speak to in the council on various topics;
  • be a showcase of the great things Monmouthshire has to offer.

Spot on, I’d say. It seems obvious but this research has given us a great way to prioritise what we’re doing and at least we know we’re on the right lines as it’s what the people who use the site say they want.

The post about the research will include every answer and some of the work our web experts did to create personas – people we bear in mind when as we improve the website.

In the new year the webteam will be working with colleagues to move our website over to WordPress (a simpler platform to use than the one our current website uses), creating new standards for the content and all the other things that go into relaunching a website. By the new financial year you should see the first iteration of our website – exciting times! We’ll be posting here as we go.

 

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