In previous posts I’ve talked about developing a content strategy for the council and shared my thoughts on what it might include, i’ve shared an example of how its already informing our development as well as sharing my thinking on the kind of support I believe web teams and local government in general need to improve the overall quality of our web estate.
There is a huge amount of work to be done moving forward and my team have essentially been delivering against this strategy already since last summer, as we have been reviewing and auditing our content.
The key point to outline is that in terms of how our web estate will actually look in 4-5 years time, we broadly see an Amazon style site emerging where our web domain acts as a trusted access point over a hybrid marketplace of services, some provided directly by us, some provided by voluntary / private sector and some provided by partnerships.
The content strategy’s primary purpose is to outline an approach and shift the current thinking around how we design, develop and manage our web estate.
I’m not going to republish the whole thing here as it is quite long, so I’ll include a few bits and pieces from the 4 year strategy and if you want to see the full version then please get in touch and I can email you a copy along with a Powerpoint presentation which helps to explain and illustrate it further.
There are 3 documents in total – in my view the background makes excellent bedtime reading when I struggle sleeping :)
- A 4 year Strategy
- A 2 year roadmap
- Background information
The content strategy aims to fundamentally change the way we think about our web presence, to reposition the user at the forefront of how and why we create content and services. It intends to exploit the social web and social networks to ensure our content reaches its intended audience.
The main aim is to ensure that users can access content where they need it and not have to rely on accessing and navigating their way through a council website to find critical or timely information and services.
If the strategy is successful then we will have a hybrid web presence with content being managed once and reused and shared where appropriate. A large proportion of our content will reside in social platforms and social networks directly targeting the primary audience, for example all of our content for parents should also be available directly via Mumsnet (if practical), or aspects of our content for people from different cultures in Devon should be directly available via Devon Grapevine.
However we would also have a strong and clearly branded presence providing core information which would act as a central hub. In maintaining a single domain this ensures that our content is accessible and findable via google which is essentially the majority of users starting point on the web.
Our vision statement:
“We will have a public facing web domain that reflects and supports the diversity and agility of the organisation, reaches out and extends our presence across the web whilst providing a framework for consistency, accountability and quality around the content we provide”.
The content strategy is also an enabler for a number of other county council strategies for example:
- Access Strategy
By providing a usable online web presence that is driven by the needs of users and provides access to a range of online services to support cost savings through the migration of users from more expensive channels of access to online.
- Engagement Strategy
By connecting people to content and information about council services, decisions, plans etc and providing opportunities and channels to provide feedback or have a discussion directly online.
- Information Strategy
By ensuring that our content is reusable, sharable, open and linked by default.
- Communications Strategy
By providing a key purpose for all content, and supporting the key themes and messages in line with the Communications Strategy.
This strategy aims to provide specific, well-informed recommendations about how we’re going to get from where we are today – bad content and too much content – to where we want to be – useful, usable content people will actually care about and in places that make sense to them.
To ensure the delivery of the strategy, we need to think differently and adopt a set of approaches which will provide the foundations for success – these are explained in further detail below.
Standards Driven – (a global experience language)
Our web domain will be an ecosystem or network of solutions all governed by a set of rules (a global experience language, or GEL ) so they look, talk and behave like part of the core and are also searchable and indexed from a single (federated) search facility.
The GEL itself will be developed using feedback and evidence around the use of our web domain and will be constantly reviewed and updated to ensure that it stays current and in line with significant changes in web delivery.
Taking the GEL further it will include standards such as:-
- Content Standards and Lifecycle Management
- Online Feedback
- Web Publishing and Editorial Policy (including Plain English)
- Accessibility (including EU Cookie Directive)
User Driven (evidence based)
Using web-based analytics is essentially about looking at how your website is being used. It gives you a feel for how many visits your site gets over a given time period, how many of these visits are unique, what the most popular pages are, as well as a whole range of other information.
In order to measure and evaluate our content effectively we need to adopt a blended approach which uses traditional web analytics along with additional sources of information/data. These would include
- Heuristic Evaluations (end users and staff)
- Data from Customer Service Centre
- Data from Freedom of Information requests
- Web Analytics
- Feedback and complaints
- Profiling and Content Engagement
- Online Surveys
A Procurement and Commissioning Framework – (working with others)
It is important to acknowledge that the council will not be able to deliver and implement the content strategy in isolation or alone. In order to achieve the aims of the content strategy we need to ensure that the GEL is consistently applied whenever county council content is being presented online whether via a website, mobile phone app, digital TV service etc.
Development through iteration (agile and response)
The content strategy requires a new way of thinking about our domain and website and for these reasons we should adopt a more agile approach to development. The main reason for this is that the web is a dynamic, constantly changing environment and subsequently drove a large number of our “microsites” to be developed outside of our corporately provided systems.
A refreshed Web Architecture – (future proofing)
The content strategy also plays a key role in shaping and informing the web architecture as part of the ICT Corporate Business and Solution Strategy as well as the emerging Application Strategy.