Re-engineering Hackney content weeknotes 19/11/19

Elephant in the room

The new website at www.hackney.gov.uk has now been live for six weeks and you’re probably missing weeknotes. So… be careful what you wish for!

In the spirit of Agile, we’ve been collating our user needs in a backlog throughout the project, and prioritising via Moscow (Must, Could, Should, Won’t for the less Agile amongst you). This allows us to improve continuously while accepting the brutal reality of finite resources.

We no longer have dedicated developers and designers on the project, however, Miles from the Learning Trust and our ICT apprentices have stepped in to help. Under the guidance of our lead front-end developer, Emma, they have been fixing functional, design and accessibility issues across the interface. It’s a delight to see a steady stream of bugs pushed through the fix process as they gain practical knowledge of the React framework and our specific tech set-up.

There remain a couple of elephants in the room. One is called Navigation and the other Search. We simply didn’t have time to polish the navigation before launch; and so we made ‘having a navigation at all’ a Must while ‘locating where you are in the navigation’ had to become a Should. We’re nearing the end with this piece and hoping to deploy to live in the next week. 

Search is virtually instantaneous when you hit Submit on your keywords. However, we know it’s taking an age to get to the search page when you click the search icon. This leaves users hanging, wondering if it’s broken. It’s not an easy problem to solve but, as an interim, we’re looking at taking the user to the search page immediately on icon click and then having a ‘loading’ icon while it indexes in the background. At least then the user knows something is happening. 

Residents continue to let us know what’s not working on the site, via Hotjar. We’re currently fixing an intermittent bug on the widget for ordering green recycling bags. While third parties are out of scope for this project, we’re not going to ignore an important issue and, you guessed it, on the backlog it goes. We still need a mechanism to feed Hotjar back to services automatically so that they are aware of any issues and are better able to take ownership of them. 

Our Web team, Iain and Alan, in Comms are using Site Improve on a daily basis. This means they can see for themselves where quality and accessibility issues lie and can get a jump on Hotjar. We still have work to do to meet AA accessibility standard and Iain is working with Gill on the accessibility statement for the site. It’s a work in progress as we continue to make things better for those particular users. 

You may have noticed the slightly alarming ‘insecure content’ icon has turned into a padlock icon on the address bar. The homepage, and a few other pages, pull embedded images from WordPress and so we had to install a security certificate on WordPress. It’s done the trick, though we’re not overly thrilled with the use of the term ‘insecure’ as it’s not a true reflection on what’s going on.

In other news, we’re working with Hackney Museum to create an inviting homepage for the service. The homepage is the Museum’s front door and has to look like something you might want to step inside. Other museums are available and we need a competitive edge.

We’ll continue to share our achievements and challenges with you as we work on the live site. It may not be weekly, it may not be fortnightly. We like to retain an element of surprise.

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