Websites. A constantly evolving, never ending project. In this new post one council comms lead shares the approach, process and lessons learned from refreshing their site.
by Louisa Dean
Websites are key to communications for councils these days and in June our team were given the task of updating the site and refreshing it.
What that actually meant was a whole new look and feel across the whole site and focusing on particular areas of content. Not exactly a small task.
Thankfully we have a dedicated digital development team who were up for this task.
So, what did we do?
It is really important to engage with users of the website.
We wanted to know what they thought of our current site and areas they wanted to improve. We produced a survey about the old site and found out what people used it for.
Three home page designs were produced following their feedback and we again asked for people’s opinions. We went out to Ascot, Maidenhead and Windsor – the three main towns in our borough – and we spoke to residents to get their views. We had a survey on our website and on social media and we also kept senior leaders and councillors informed.
We also did some eye-tracking. This is a whizzy (I sound old now) device that follows your eyes as you carry out some key tasks. This really helped with how we positioned items on the home page and to establish a more focused customer journey.
Once we had a homepage that was agreed – taking on board the feedback – we again asked people what they thought and made some changes to navigation icons following their feedback.
2. A lot of hard work
The digital development team then had a lot of hard work to do. They looked at the pages that were visited the most by website users as well as where the contact centre received the most calls.
They then started looking at the content and how they could present it in a more focused, easy to use format.
One area they focused on was parking. We now have a map which displays car parks for users to find parking near popular tourist attractions and landmarks. You can even get directions so when you visit Windsor, and you all should – we have a lovely castle, you can get directions from where you are to the car park.
3. Test, test and test again
We then had the finished product and we did a lot of testing on all sorts of devices for responsiveness and accessibility.
There were changes that needed to be made and we went back and tested again to make sure everything worked before we went live.
We then spent a further five days testing every element of the website and then, in the early hours of the morning, one last test before we flicked the switch.
4. Engage again
What have we done since going live nearly two weeks ago? We have engaged again with our users. We have asked them what they think of the new site and we have asked for feedback. I have also presented the website to our parish councillors so they are aware of the changes and how they can find the information they need.
It was really important to us that we didn’t just change the website because we wanted to – we changed the website because the users informed us of what they liked and disliked.
Please let us know what you think – https://www3.rbwm.gov.uk/webfeedback
Louisa Dean is Communications Manager at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead
image via SDASM Archives