Move to WordPress and a 250% mobile visit increase!

In the past year we’ve seen a 250 percent increase in visits to our website from residents using mobile devices.

We moved to WordPress (launched three months ago) partly because of the relative simplicity of creating a site which is responsive, meaning the website alters to fit the screen size of the device residents access the website from.

19 percent of all websites in the world now run on WordPress but we’re one of the first  councils to make this change for a corporate site.

My fantastic colleague Joanna Goodwin, Web Officer, project managed the new website:

“The launch is only the beginning. We want to continually improve and make the site better.

“We worked with residents and local businesses to redesign and structure the website with the people who use it in mind. In practice that means we’ve tried to make it easier to consume on the go, we write in plain English and make things much easier to find.

“Moving to WordPress – this will save a lot of money in the future as we no longer pay any license fees or for support. When we want to make a change or experiment with new ways of using the site, we don’t have to pay a company, we can do it ourselves.”

Mobile visits were already increasing and in the short time after we launched our mobile-responsive site we’ve seen more and more visits from phones and tablets.

Our website is moving with the way people use the internet – we don’t want to wait until we get home to find out information. The ‘Google It’ generation decide what they need to know and look for it there and then, often on mobile devices.

We decided to make a radical change as last year statistics from our site showed us most people come to our site from a search engine – not many people I know go to a council website for a leisurely browse! They’re there to find out something specific. We needed to improve the site to suit how people use it.

The main changes in the new version of www.monmouthshire.gov.uk are:

  • It can now be viewed on mobile and tablet devices
    The site will will rearrange itself if you are viewing it on a smartphone, tablet or PC device.
  • It is now designed to be used easily by people with visual impairments and other disabilities
    These colours were chosen to meet branding guidelines and also help people who use the site who have visual impairments and other disabilities.
  • Pages have been re-written into plain English
    The web team aimed to remove jargon and unhelpful information and the website was edited from 20,000 web pages just over a year ago to about 500 pages.
  • Residents can login if they wish – allowing them to comment on pages and change the menu on the front page
    The new offers a login feature where people can log into the website and access extra services like commenting on pages and changing the menu on the home page so it displays most used and favourite webpages
  • It’s easier to use
    The site is faster for residents in poor broadband areas and has an improved search box, meaning people can find what they need more readily.

Stats

In the past year we’ve seen a 153.21% increase in visits from tablet devices and a 102.73% increase in visits from mobile phones. Since launch three months ago we’ve had a 23% increase in visits from mobile devices.

The cost of the site

The overall cost of the site was £11350, including the site, build, accessibility testing and live testing and the council web team will maintain and develop the site at no cost. Moving to the free site WordPress will save the council money in the future as we no longer pay web license fees or for support.

Research showed that average estimated channel costs in local government are about 17 pence per enquiry for the web, as opposed to roughly £4 for phone enquiries and over £7 for face-to-face enquiries.  The difference in costs between web and other channels means it’s important for the council to make the website as effective as possible – it will save money in the long term.

We looked at a Guardian article about how much councils tend to spend on websites and found this piece and infographic really useful as a way of proving the worth of this project.

We are committed to spending money wisely – we have done this as cheaply as possible and our work on this will save the council money.

 The team

Thanks go to those who worked on launching the site:

From the council: Jo Goodwin, Tim Macdermott, Claire Lewis, Helen Reynolds (moi).

Our expert helpers: Joel Hughes, Russel Britton, Duncan Abraham, Bonny Ramsay.

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