What matters when redesigning a council website?

According to “Government Computer News” in their pitch for a continuing training for “Building Better Government Websites From Strategy to Fulfillement”, its says

Agency websites are becoming more critical to achieving a wide range of mission goals and objectives ranging from communication to service delivery as well as transparency and open government initiatives. As the role of websites expands, governance of content and activity becomes more challenging. Customer Satisfaction has been shown to be related to both transparency and user friendly navigation and customer satisfaction of websites have the largest impact on overall agency customer satifaction ratings. Improving overall customer satisfaction to web visitors requires an overall web and information strategy to be developed with leadership buy in.

However being in the middle of the processes of redesigning a council website is nothing like I could ever imagine. Acquiring customer satisfaction is going to be at the heart of this project and we hope to get it right. And from bitter experiences in dotCom and dotGov projects in the past, we all know that it is important to start on the right foot. Therefore, its critical to understand our challenges and drive our digital strategy in the right direction.

There are a lot of issues and questions that need to be addressed and sometimes asking the right questions can lead to the right answers and solutions. So here are my questions so far:-

  1. How will the processes fit in users opinions and match their expectations? What are the best ways to conduct an insightful research so that we capture all their thoughts and current frustrations on the website?
  2. How do we manage internal demands? Is it technically feasible to answer to every demand?
  3. What are the major problems with the current website?
  4. What are the common problems with any council website?
  5. How do we strike a balance between what’s ‘wanted’ and what’s ‘needed’ by the users?
  6. How do avoid information overload while still providing users with all the information and services that they need?
  7. Who are the key people involved in the website redesign process? Are we missing out anybody important?
  8. What type of design should it be? Should it be transactional focused or engaging or both?
  9. Is design important? Or is content more important? How do we strike a balance between design and content?
  10. Why are council websites confusing for users?
  11. What are the major barriers for council website development/redesign?
  12. How do we prioritize user and business requirements?

All these questions will be answered in more detailed blogs coming up. But until then, I would like to ask readers if these are the right questions to ask, whether you’re a citizen of Camden Council, or you work for Camden Council or merely an interested individual who has experience in this field and would like to share your thoughts.

@danslee has written quite a comprehensive blogpost based on a session I conducted at the UK Government Camp in January 2010 on “What makes a good council website?” . I highly recommend reading it, especially the comments section.

There is also a website where you can submit your ideas on what makes a decent council website powered by Ideascale.

We have also setup a Uservoice Survey for you to give your ideas and vote on them so we know what you would like to see from the new website and what improvements we can make from the old one.  You can take part in the survey here.

We will also be uploading some interviews with people who work on the project on our Facebook Page, so feel free to join us on facebook too so you can keep up with the website redesign updates.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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