Re-engineering Hackney content: weeknotes 22/09/19

This week sees our last big push to the finish with the search, homepage and navigation to complete. In-site search is on the slide as users simply query in Google; however, once users are in the site, they are more likely to use it so it still needs to be effective. We’re kicking off with the out-the-box WordPress search as it’s already SEO-friendly; we can look to boost with plugins like Cludo or Elastic further down the line. 

Alan and Iain are starting to think about homepage content for launch. Although much of the Council is task-driven, we do want to encourage a teensy bit of stickiness so people are tempted to explore and discover all the amazing stuff we do beyond the admin of everyday lives. 

We spent much of this week testing the navigation with users to make sure they are able to jump in, out and around the hierarchy. The ongoing issue with recruiting participants for research is not unique to Hackney and is something organisations will farm out to a specialist agency at the earliest opportunity. Luckily, we are not looking for an obscure demographic so we were able to find sufficient volunteers for Wing and Sam to interview. One lady recruited via Hotjar was a real bonus for our accessibility testing also. 

It’s Carolina’s last day on Wednesday so we’ve been identifying any final design challenges, focussing on Commercial Property and bits and bobs like icons. Mo is with us for another month and 30 September remains Red Button day. He’s up against it with coding HTML components for the Intranet as well as working on this project but we’re hoping October will be an opportunity to get through at least some of our ‘should’ priorities. 

We’ve formulated the plan for launch and we’re not expecting any major difficulties. We’ll be adding the domain to Netlify (the cloud where we’re hosting the front-end) and Mal’s team will make the DNS switch. This will cause the temporary www3 to revert to www and, BOOM, confetti will fall out of the sky. We will, of course, all be on hand throughout in case a little shrapnel comes along with it. 

We’ve been really sociable this week with not one but two visits from other councils interested in our work. First up was Corinne Pinfold and Mirabai Galati from Croydon. It was really refreshing to compare notes on our approaches to ‘redoing the website’, and always reassuring that we face some of the same problems. If we can get our heads together and collaborate on helping user-centred design gain traction at the service level, it will definitely prove to have been a fruitful meeting. 

Next up was Westminster’s Alasdair Maclean and Colin Harral, coming from more of a tech stance. They too are revising their digital offer and we were able to share details of our Thoroughly Modern Mo approach of React and Gatsby alongside WordPress API. We did have a slight chuckle at the misconception that there is a small army of Hackney-ites completing this work. No, it’s just us. 

You never quite know who’s reading these weeknotes and if anyone would notice if I wrote ‘rhubarb’ repeatedly. So it’s nice to know they are of use and can even result in actual, real-life, face-to-face conversations. Who knew?

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