Re-engineering Hackney content: weeknotes 14/09/19

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, as it always is when you come back from holiday. We presented a second iteration of Carolina Gaspari’s homepage to Ben Knowles, which incorporated feedback from the wider Comms team and included four versions of the main promo area. Jennifer Riley and Hannah Saunders from the Intranet project are also in the loop as they’ll be using the same homepage components as the website.

We now have a solid steer and that should be coded up by the end of next week, upon Mohamed Mulla’s return on Monday. Carolina is only with us for another couple of weeks so we need to sign off all design asap.

30 September is the date when Goss will switch off the site and we’re all on WordPress. We’ve prioritised the backlog with a vengeance. Ultimately, it’s the front-end, consumer-facing user stories with the greatest impact that are getting the focus. It’s going to be tight but we absolutely have to get the homepage, search, image block and navigation through development by then.

We’ve also MOSCOW’d the bug backlog. It”ll be one heck of a bug that earns itself a ‘must’ in the fixing stakes with all the other competing claims on Mo’s time. The majority are ‘shoulda-couldas’ with the odd ‘won’t’.

Turns out there’s a 1 October after September. We’ve been thinking about how to support the launched site for a while; and had hoped that front-end developers would have been recruited by now. With much of our estate now coming into WordPress, it’s vital to ensure those skills are brought in with any new hires. We have a couple of interim options so we’re not left high and dry after launch but the front-end resource situation ultimately needs resolving. It shouldn’t be that hard to find them: there’s probably at least one WordPress developer we can hoik off the 242 bus at any one time.

We can at least automate some of the testing to maintain content quality. Site Improve would be an incredible boost to the site, with its gamification approach to quality assurance, SEO, accessibility and analytics. Without it, the site will degrade and consumer confidence will drop. The funding of software that’s of benefit to every service in the council with a digital presence – ie every service – is another issue that we have to address. Again, we have interim options to fund Site Improve until the wider point is decided by someone on a higher pay grade than us.

Should we need further evidence that quality is paramount, there’s plenty to read in the Hotjar responses. While we’ve taken down the main survey (it’ll go back up after launch), we’ve retained a poll on some parking pages. Analysis of all responses showed many dissatisfied customers who couldn’t pay their parking fines, largely due to intermittent errors. Upon relaying this to the service, Parking, ICT App Support and the third party supplier really rose to the challenge. Monitoring was extended and the servers beefed up and, so far, there has not been one Hotjar response citing the earlier problem. It’s only been a week and we’ll keep an eye on it but it’s a solid step forward and demonstrates how we work best when we work together.

We’ve been making more friends along the way with the services that have shown enthusiasm for developing their digital content. Our workshop with Bhupendra Bahari and Davina Rai from Recycling and Waste earlier in the week has generated some immediate and longer term solutions to answer residents’ ‘What can I and can’t I recycle?’ questions. An imminent Rough Sleepers campaign is also on the cards and we’re working with Helen Clarke and Andrew Croucher to see how we can help.

In tandem, myself and Marian Andoh will be running a workshop next week to flesh out how best we can work with services on digital evolution.

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