Project WIP


2018 – well that went quickly!

Yes, we know we’ve not posted recently, but here’s why…

Our yearly review

What we did in 2017, and what we plan to do in 2018!

Confessions of a #LocalGovCamp attendee – part 2

Part 2 of my thoughts from the 2017 LocalGovCamp

Confessions of a #LocalGovCamp attendee – part 1

Part 1 of my thoughts from the 2017 LocalGovCamp.

Busyness as usual…

Latest releases from Planet WIP

New Year, new projects, same dedication

A quick reflection on 2016, and a sneaky peak at what is ahead in 2017

New SEND/local offer pages now live!

The second part of the ‘Ambitious Plan’ trilogy…

Keeping up with the Joneses

How do you keep up with web innovations?

There and back again

Luca talks about his time with us, starting with his placement last year.

Hello and Goodbye – my time at Project WIP

Liam explains how he worked with us as part of his apprenticeship

What’s going on?

Yes, we’ve been quiet recently, but we’ve been very busy…!

Early Help and an ambitious plan…

We’ve just finished the first phase of a project to update our early help pages.

Come and work with us

We’re looking for a Web Developer to join our team and build great things (and eat cake with us)!

Farewell Lorna

Goodbye and good luck to Lorna!

The Fulcrum Project

Recent activities from the WIP frontline…

Saying au revoir to Mike, Luca & Florent

A belated post to say farewell to three valued members of our team

Personas and profiling (who needs the FBI?)

How can you make sure your website is suitable for your customers? Well try putting yourselves in their shoes!

My first year with Project WIP

I’m Dan, and these are my experiences of my first year in the team.

Let’s do a little experiment… what’s the worst that can happen?

What happened with our WhatsApp trial? Well, not as much as we’d hoped, but at least we tried!

umbLocalGov 2 – the (belated) round-up

So what happened at the second umbLocalGov event?

umbLocalGov 2 – will you be attending?

Find out who and what is on the agenda for the next umbLocalGov event on Thursday 9th October!

Much ado about Parking

This week we pushed out our latest addition to, the highly anticipated but occasionally troublesome Parking pages.

Thoughts from a #localgovcamp newbie – part 2

So, what did I get out of the LocalGovCamp unconference? Read on to find out!

Thoughts from a #localgovcamp newbie – part 1

What happened at the LocalGovCamp hack day?

How we write

How we present our content is vitally important in forging good and trusting relationships with our customers

Our new intranet – two months in…

An update on our new intranet and how it is settling in

Ciao Cait

Saying goodbye to Cait Wrigley

Social Shropshire

The good and bad bits of having 90 social media accounts! gets migrated – part II

Migrating a rather large website from Notes to Umbraco – from a content perspective

“Yeah well, I also cook…”

Hello from Project WIP’s newest developer!

Farewell Lewis Moorcroft

Saying goodbye to another good friend and colleague…

Well I never – I’m certifiable!

100% pass rate in recent Umbraco exams!

It never rains but it pours! Managing a LocalGov digital service in severe weather

Wind, rain, sleet and snow – the Digital Team is always ready to go!

It’s alive! (the new SLG)

An update on the Shropshire Learning Gateway project.

The ‘Golden’ Contract

Take a look at the contract we use which sets out the responsibilities and requirements of the service area and the Digital Services Team during the new.shropshire project.

How we socialise

How does local government deal with social media? Cait outlines our approach here…

Farewell Louise Tierney

On Wednesday 20th November 2013 we said goodbye to a good friend and colleague.

A little post about me, and what I’ve been up to as one of the newest members of Project WIP

Jue Williams gives her views as one of the new members of Project WIP

Time for a makeover

It’s been a long time coming but we are finally redesigning Project WIP. Within the team we’ve had some ideas about what the new site should look like and what we should be focusing on, as there have been a lot of changes over the past two years. Project WIP has evolved into a ‘brand’, […]

WIPping our new intranet into shape

An update on work we’re doing to replace Shropshire Council’s intranet.

Working with our neighbours, the Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service

As always, we’re never just working on one project at a time here at Project WIP, so alongside the on-going Shropshire Learning Gateway (SLG) project we told you about, and all the other work we’re doing, a few of us have been working on a budget reductions website for the Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service which […]

What we learned from our Umbraco training

Not sure if you need to take the official Umbraco training? Read this and let us change your mind!

Redesigning the Shropshire Learning Gateway

Wondering what we’ve been working on recently? One of the big ongoing projects for the team at the moment is a replacement for the Shropshire Learning Gateway (SLG), a portal for the authority to communicate information to staff in schools. The current SLG contract was coming to an end and we were asked to come […]

(R)evolution 2013 Conference

On Friday 27th September, the Project WIP team members helped out at the first all day web conference in Shropshire – Shropgeek’s (R)evolution! We were there from the start to help people register and give out goody bags, and we were lucky enough to sit in on a lot of the talks too.

We are now an Umbraco Certified Partner!

Shropshire Council can now call itself an Umbraco Certified Partner

Farewell Chris Jones

Our colleague Chris Jones, Digital Services & Innovations Manager, co-conspirator in Project WIP and a close friend to many of us – left Shropshire Council last week to study in China. Although we are incredibly sad to see him go, we are also extremely happy for him and pleased that he is living his dream. So Chris, […]

Umbraco in Local Government (#umbLocalGov)

The afternoon of the 22nd August 2013 saw the incredibly successful first “Umbraco in Local Government” event take place here at the Shirehall. It was the first step for us all to start openly pooling our skills and knowledge on this open-source CMS, and to make our websites the best they can be for the public we all serve. gets migrated – part I

Yes, has moved – well, the content has at least. For the last 4 years the main Shropshire Council website was running on a legacy bespoke Content Management System (CMS), built on the Lotus Domino platform. This was forked from the previous pre-unitary Shropshire County Council CMS – making some parts of the code […]

Umbraco in Local Government event 22nd August 2013

In Local Government? Interested in Umbraco? If yes, come to our event!

Socitm Presentation: Project WIP We’re awesome (but we all make mistakes)

Yesterday we presented at Socitm’s Building Perfect Council Websites conference. We’d like to thank Socitm for inviting us along and all those who attended the morning workshop with myself.  As promised, here is a write up of the presentation from the workshop ‘Project WIP we’re awesome (but we all make mistakes)’. I apologise now for […]

Socitm BPCW ’13 Presentation: Building Innovative Teams

Yesterday (Thursday 11th July 2013) Louise, Nigel Bishop (Head of Service Support, Marketing & Engagement), our Chief Executive Clive Wright and myself – attended SOCITM’s annual website conference ‘Building Perfect Council Websites 2013‘. We weren’t just there to learn about what others were doing however as Clive, Louise and myself were also presenting. Clive and I shared a presentation slot […]

Fun in the city #Socspring13

On Wednesday 24th April I attended the Socitm Spring Conference at The Royal College of Surgeons and wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with you all. On the morning of the event, I woke up in London, a significant change to rural Shropshire and wondered what the day ahead may have in store. It […]

Building control

In case you’ve been wondering what we’ve been up to recently on here’s a quick update for you about our work with Building Control, with a few words from the team themselves. Here’s what Mike Seager, Building Control Surveyor, had to say about working with us: “The Building Control department of Shropshire Council sits within […]

A visit from Birmingham City Council

Earlier this week we had our neighbours from Birmingham City Council pay us a visit. It gave them a chance to find out about Umbraco – our new Content Management System (CMS) – and how we were getting along with it, and also give them a deeper insight into Project WIP. The visit was interesting […]

We’ve Rebelled

We were recently invited by Shropgeek to give a presentation at their first ever Rebellion event at The Alb in Shrewsbury on Thursday 21st February 2013 (sorry, we know the post is a little late). The Rebellion event gave us an excellent opportunity to show people the thought process behind the development of – in particular Customer […]

Planning Portal – Really Useful Event

Here’s our presentation for the ‘Really Useful Day’ event in Huddersfield

Small team, big ideas

Find out about the Web Services team & how they work

Lipsum this!

Stuck for filler content for your mockups? Look here…!

Ho Ho Ho!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Project WIP!!

A thank you to The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse

You’re probably aware that we’ve been busy working away on – to be honest it’s all we’ve been harping on about, how could you not know? As part of the project we’ve been re-engineering the whole look, feel and experience. Now, we think we’ve done a fairly good job, but, as the saying […]

So what do you use at work?

The last few years have brought about a lot of change for Shropshire Council. For us, this has also meant a lot more interaction with other councils and private organisations when collaborating on various projects, or through attending training courses or social events. Whenever we meet a fellow web developer/designer the topic of conversation always […]

Seeing things from a different perspective

How meeting new people & situations can be a benefit to your work

So what’s next for

We’ve recently completed development work on the Libraries and Recycling and Rubbish pages, so, “what’s next” you ask? We’re moving onto Planning Services (cue scary music).  But you’ll be pleased to hear we’re off to a good start. We hosted a workshop the other week with the good people of planning to help figure out […]

Local DirectGov Really Useful Day

I attended a Local DirectGov Really Useful Day on Friday 26th October in Crewe on behalf of the Project WIP team. We were asked to give a presentation on the Customer Journeys and the User Experience work that Shropshire has been doing on I met some super people from neighbouring councils all with similar problems […]

The evolution of an interactive page

When we kicked off the ‘recycling and rubbish’ phase of, it was made clear during the analysis stage that a page would be needed to allow people to find out ‘what can I recycle where?’. In this post we go through the bright ideas and failed concepts that led us to our finished page.

Rolling back to go forward

Dealing with the death of Umbraco v5

Digital Futures 2012

Yesterday (Monday 10 September) Chris Jones, Louise Tierney and myself attended the Digital Futures 2012 event at the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, organised by our colleagues in Shropshire Council’s Communications team. The interesting and entertaining sessions given by the speakers provides a lot of food for thought when it comes to considering how digital and […]

What do our customers want?

I am going to start this post with a couple of questions: Why do you visit council planning web pages? Have you already visited ours? The reason for these questions is that I have been tasked with finding out what our customers really want, with the aim of improving our user experience for our new […]

Update on

Firstly apologies for being a little quiet about but you may have read on previous posts we’ve had a few ‘hiccups’ with Umbraco, but we’re back on track. We mentioned previously that we’d be looking at the Waste service area next, and have since carried out our preliminarily research by holding a kick off […]

Our day out at Socitm

Yesterday Lorna and I went to Socitm’s Building Perfect Council Websites 2012 conference at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. We were invited to host one of the breakout discussion groups about and working in the open. We’d like to thank everyone who came to our discussion and hope that you all took something away […]

Farewell Martin Wright

This is a bit late coming, but something I thought was needed. Our colleague Martin Wright, leader of the Web Team, co-conspirator in Project WIP and a close friend to many of us – left Shropshire Council this month to pursue his career further afield. Although we are incredibly sad to see him go, we […]

Service by location

One of the features of the prototype site is the ability to find a service by location – for example, ‘find my nearest’ library. There are two main components to this. The first works out where you are and the second takes the data and provides a list of the three closest libraries to […]

New Shropshire project update

It’s gone very quiet since we released the prototype of but rest assured we’ve been very busy. As well as finishing some missing functionality, responding to feedback and fixing some pesky bugs we’re planning the next stages of the project and creating a repeatable process for the rest of

Using Umbraco

When the decision was made to use Umbraco for it was at an interesting point in the lifecycle of the CMS. The current version at that time (and the one we had based our initial investigations on) was 4.7.1, but a newer, more refined version (Umbraco 5) was in beta, and would be released […]

Choosing Umbraco

For those following our recent posts, you will have noticed a lot of chatter about the work behind This has covered pretty much all the stages of the project, from the initial announcement of the prototype site right up to the launch, but one thing we haven’t covered is our choice of CMS – […]


We’d like to invite you to try out what we’re calling ‘version 1’ of We have completed around 70% of the site and will be adding loads of new features over the coming days and weeks.

Taking advantage of high-DPI displays

We want the new to look fantastic on all devices. This means paying special attention to displays with a high number of dots-per-inch.

User experience design on

As you may know we are busy working on a new If you didn’t know, where have you been? Check out these articles to get up to speed. Go on, I’ll wait…. As mentioned in previous posts we are completely redeveloping, starting with Libraries. Part of this overhaul is to look at the user […]

We’re on Facebook

In preparation for the launch of we’ve set ourselves up with a brand new Facebook profile, you can send us all your feedback and ideas on there now too.

A view from the libraries – new

This is a guest post by Brian Rapson, Team Librarian The minute we started working with the Web Team, their passion for improving the look and feel of our webpages and the content made it clear that it was not going to be just a matter of shoe-horning the old into the new, but would […]

Changing our editor structure for

This is a guest post by Mark Jones, Web Content Authoriser For several years now, our team of web editors have done a magnificent job of keeping the council’s website up-to-date, telling us when pages need to be deleted or amended, or when attachments are obsolete. This has resulted in our website being commended externally […]

Choosing a service for the prototype

We announced recently we’ve chosen Libraries as the pilot service for This isn’t a decision we took lightly. We thought long and hard about which service we would choose and came up with some criteria.

Planning a new website

You’ve probably heard that we’re busy working on a new, this is something we’ve been planning for some time. Here’s an overview of the steps we go through for each service

Announcing a new

Over the next couple of months we will create a new ‘prototype’ version of’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.

Shropshire Council Newsroom gets a new responsive design

You may recall in May I posted an article on the increase in mobile traffic hitting our web services over the last few months, and as a result we set ourselves a new goal of incorporating responsive designs into future releases of some of those services – i.e. to improve the mobile web experience. Well […]

Mapping broadband speeds in Shropshire

(Please note that although this map is still live it is no longer being updated as the broadband project has moved on from this point. For more information about the project visit the Connecting Shropshire site.) Our broadband embedded map provides Shropshire residents with information about estimated broadband speeds they can receive. This map gets […]

Bus timetables now live

We are happy to announce our bus timetables system is now live. Although we have designed the system to work for a wide range of devices we took a chance with this project to try out some new technologies which I wanted to talk about briefly here.

£204,269.08 – an Open Source Update

Eye catching title huh? In my previous post (Open Source? Yeah, we’ve heard of it…) I talked in brief about how we were using Open Source and how it was saving the Council significant amounts of money. We have now calculated that we are directly saving the council £204k over an initial 5 year period […]

On the buses – testing round up

We had over 1000 unique visits to the new buses system – thanks to everybody who took time to try it out. We’ve had bucket loads of feedback and I’d love to be able to address every one individually but there were just too many, instead I have tried to summarise them in this post.

How you can help us

When you visit our pages do you ever think ‘there’s a better way to do that’, ‘this information should be laid out differently’, or even ‘this is fantastic, just what I was looking for’? (We live in hope). If you do then let us know – feedback from our customers is really useful, helping us […]

Updates to

Today (28 June 2011) we released v5.0.4 of our website. To the casual visitor, this won’t mean much, but for us this release brings about more improvements for the website & our CMS. I won’t bore you with the CMS changes (but I will say that what we have received the comment “Love it , […]

Designing for readability

We’ve had a lot of comments about the font size used on, (some good, some bad – it was even highlighted by a reviewer in this year’s SOCITM Better Connected survey) and I wanted to write a post in response to this. The size of the text is a conscious choice, based on some sound design principles.

Instead of writing a post solely to justify our choices, I thought it would be more useful to share the principles and practices that led us to arrive there.

What do we do all day?

It’s been nearly 3 months since Project WIP launched and we have blogged about open source, site releases and accessibility. But you may be wondering about the actual products we’ve been busy conceiving, designing

Tools and tips for developing accessible websites

As mentioned in a previous post, many websites claim to meet the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), but these claims are often based on automated tests, and couldn’t be further from the truth. Automated tests are useful but limited and should only be used as part of a wider range of tests incorporating a […]

Spell checking your searches

Our search engine (RICE) has the ability to detect and suggest corrections for spelling errors.  It is designed to assist our users in finding what they want quickly and helping people (like me) who have difficulty spelling. It was a feature which provided some difficulty to implement, taking two iterations before being useful enough to […]

Open Source? Yeah, we’ve heard of it – it’s how we’re reducing costs!

Dear Open Source, We’d just like to give you a lovely big, warm hug from everyone in the team. We <3 you Open Source! Yours truly Chris Jones Architecture team leader Architecture and Implementation department Shropshire Council

A first look at

Late Tuesday night – the centralised government website prototype – was made live.

It is a concept, a prototype, and although it is rough around the edges it carries with it so much promise. The team have created something that is very different from traditional government websites; they have made the most of a blank slate and have thrown many conventions to the wind.

Making responsive

We’ve seen mobile traffic to rising steeply recently, so over the coming months we are kicking off a project to make our website work better with mobile and tablet devices. We are currently researching best practice and these are some of the things we have found

An introduction to website accessibility

When you are creating a website, it is easy to get caught up in designing sharp-looking features with a whole plethora of widgets and gadgets to keep your audience entertained. Yes, it does look amazing, and yes, it does everything you want it to do, but the one question remains – can everyone use it?

Successful site releases

We release an update to our website around once every six weeks, this can be anything from minor bug fixes to major overhauls and new functionality. We have a large group of customers and it is difficult to release without impacting them in some way, so to minimise this we have a site release process […]

Early preview of our new maps system now available

We’re putting out new maps system live at the end of March, but we’re running a little ahead of schedule, so you can now access it as a sneak preview through Project WIP. This is an open preview, so no need to sign up for this one. The price? Just send us some feedback!

Learning about Open Data from Warwickshire

Visiting Warwickshire County Council was a great way for us to kick off with our plans for open data. As we chatted through the many benefits, potential issues and hidden challenges I took a few notes, which I have summarised

Auto-completing search queries

Our search engine (RICE) has a feature called ‘auto-complete’. As you type into the search box, it will suggest terms that you might be searching for. To do this we use JavaScript events to respond as you type within the search box.  Each time you press a key, we send a request back to the search […]

Why bother blogging?

Is it weird for a Council’s in-house development team to publicly blog about the things it does? They’re only serving internal customers, so what relevance does it have to anyone outside those walls? Isn’t it just a waste of time and public resources?

Welcome to Project WIP

Project WIP is a blog about the many projects that make up the Shropshire Council website.

Our aim is to:

Engage with our customers
Offer ways for our customers to submit feedback, share ideas and to get involved with the project
Document our progress and share our ideas and findings throughout the multitude of projects that contribute to our website
Promote the work of the many project teams involved in our website

Introducing Shropshire Newsroom

This week we launched a brand new product – Shropshire Newsroom.

It is designed to give our customers a one stop shop for all council news, with the ability to share and comment on news stories

Introducing the Waste Collection Day Finder

This week we launched a new service on our website: the waste collection day finder. This service allows our customers to look up when their bin days are. It uses data from the national land and property gazetteer (NLPG) and our waste supplier Veolia’s collection schedules.