It would appear that I have stumbled (fallen head first?) into my role at Shropshire.gov.uk at just the right time. After a few years of searching, we may at last have found a contender to replace our ageing content management system, and the best part about it? It is open source and won’t cost us a penny.
So, I’ve missed the bulk of the last few year’s hard work investigating other systems, but without worrying too much about that (guilt is an unnecessary and time-consuming distraction right?), I am now jumping right in as we embark on a new and exciting chapter in the tale of the Shropshire Council website.
Over the next couple of months we will create a new ‘prototype’ version of Shropshire.gov.uk’s library pages that will focus on customer needs rather than the organisation’s to make it quick and easy for our customers to find what they are looking for.
This work will give us the perfect opportunity to evaluate Umbraco as a replacement for our current bespoke content management system (CMS). We will review the prototype after four weeks by looking at our visitor statistics, feedback gathered and usability testing with customers in a number of libraries across the county. If we’re happy with the prototype we will roll it out across the whole of shropshire.gov.uk.
You may be asking yourself ‘why would Shropshire Council want to do this?’ To be honest there are so many reasons, some technical and some not. For me, the main reason is because it gives us a unique opportunity to start from scratch; to remove all of the content and structure that has built up over the years and to rethink it all.
It also gives us a rare opportunity to rationalise our current web-editor structure (300+), and turn the culture of ‘the more editors the better’ on its head as we have proved that it is not an efficient way of delivering online services.
We will work in partnership with the library service who have agreed to be our guinea pigs and we have already started some undercover research; lurking in the corners of Shrewsbury library watching what customers do and how they do it.
In 2011 there were several high-profile web projects that began as publicly available prototypes (commonly known as open betas), such as the single government domain project (http://gov.uk/), Direct Scot (http://www.directscot.org/) and Herefordshire Council’s own website (http://beta.herefordshire.gov.uk/), so we are in good company.
The team at Shropshire.gov.uk is working tirelessly to get something out to you in April, and I promise that you won’t want to miss this opportunity to see what all the hype is about – it looks fab already!
Visit our holding page to sign up and be the first to find out when we turn the new site on: http://new.shropshire.gov.uk.