It’s alive! Presenting the beta of a new council website
Today I’m excited and proud to share the work of the website delivery team – a soft launch of our new website.
Just over a year ago, the council signed the Local Digital Declaration. It was a commitment to design services that meet user needs, challenge the tech tools and services we use, protect citizens’ privacy and deliver value for money.
Today I’m excited and proud to share the first public step we’ve taken in a flagship project within Croydon Digital Service which has the Declaration at its heart – building a new council website.
new.croydon.gov.uk is the first public release of the new site. It’s in a beta after passing its alpha assessment a few months ago (which I MUST blog about soon). Our new site is quietly radical, and sets a new high bar for the quality of resident-facing digital services. I’d also like to publicly thank the delivery team of developers, designers, researchers, content designers, architects and delivery managers – plus the leadership and support from the management team and beyond which has made this all possible. And also, very importantly, thanks to Brighton and Hove city council – without their shared commitment to the Local Digital Declaration it would have been impossible for us to have achieved so much, so quickly.
What we’ve done so far
Adult Health and Social Care is the first section of content on the site so far. Until the beta replaces it, you can compare and contrast with the old content here. All other links currently take you back to the old site.
Alongside the website, we’ve built a new design system to enable us to apply a consistent look and feel across all platforms that have resident-facing web pages. All new or redeveloped platforms will be required to use this design system from now on, or they won’t be allowed to go live.
Site navigation has evolved over the last half decade. We’ve ripped ours up and redesigned it with repeated rounds of testing with residents, to foreground the tasks they come to us for. We’ll keep iterating this from now on as we bring each section across.
Content is much clearer, completely rewritten in plain language with clear calls to action. Here are a couple of pages for comparison:
- old: https://www.croydon.gov.uk/healthsocial/adult-care/protection-from-abuse-and-harm/reportabuse
- new: https://new.croydon.gov.uk/adult-health-and-social-care/report-abuse-adult
We’re structuring content around the tasks users come to do. This includes introducing the award-winning ‘step by step’ navigation pattern from GOV.UK, which transforms disjointed, separate pages of information into a structured service. See our first example of step by step in action.
The site has been assessed by accessibility experts and is on track to be fully compliant with accessibility standards. The current site, having been built several years ago, creates difficulties for users with disabilities. Fixing them is a top priority.
For the first time, we’re running the technology in-house, meaning we have the ability to change it quickly and have full control over the most important part of the council’s ‘front door’. It’s also enabled us to create a code sharing programme with Brighton and Hove city council, where we’re reusing their code, developing our own to share back, and align our plans to benefit each other even more in the future. The value of our code sharing has been recognised by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) who have awarded us funding to research the challenges that exist in shared coding and explore practical solutions that can be expanded to the wider local government digital community.
And to top it off, we used a ‘mobile first’ approach, so it works brilliantly on mobile and screens of any size.
The first of many releases
When we’ve run more research on what’s been built, refined the design further, and collected more feedback, we’ll be ready to replace the old adult social care website with these new and improved pages. We’re currently working on rewriting content relating to planning and building services, registrar and bereavement service, and then children’s services (these are “internal” names for these services, the website content will be organised around user needs and user journeys).
We’re working iteratively, so expect the site design to evolve. The new homepage, currently being researched and designed, will be the next big change. The team has reviewed over 50 site homepages and done user research on paper prototypes, so a new design which represents the council and borough is on the way soon. The new site homepage we’re currently using is a clone of what Brighton and Hove city council use, so we need to give it some Cronx flair.
Go and explore
Please explore https://new.croydon.gov.uk and let us know what you think!
- comment on this blog post, below
- use our feedback form (linked to in the footer of the site)
- use the “Feedback” tab on the right edge of the new site to rate and comment on specific pages