Re-engineering Hackney content: weeknotes 29/07/19

Sometimes you need to go a bit [cover your ears, children] Waterfall. We’ve unfinished business on the project and the best way to organise it might just be an old-fashioned schedule:

  1. Navigation and redirects
  2. Security
  3. Left hand navigation
  4. Homepage
  5. Image block
  6. Search
  7. Accessibility testing
  8. End to end testing and bug-fixing

Quite a list. However, work has already started on each one and we reckon we can get it done in the next month. Six weeks allowing for holidays.

We’re continuing to populate the navigation. Early user research showed that, although alphabetical order didn’t actually help anyone find anything [roads and transport; transport and roads, anyone?] it gave comfort to know it was ordered in some way. Further down the road, we may look at Hotjar heatmaps to see which are the most popular and order accordingly. 

The left hand navigation is our next priority. This is only needed on pages that sit on the lowest, fourth level of the content hierarchy. Without it, users can’t get to the village in our country/county/city analogy so we are racing along those B roads to deliver.

Our successor to the landing page is now in code. The existing landing pages (eg /parking or /planning) are essentially navigations featuring two menus that sometimes repeat themselves [no, we’re not sure either]. Our new mechanism is for, eg, /#planning to ping out the expanded Planning navigation so users can select what they want. We’ll test, of course. 

An impromptu brainstorm about the homepage saw us discussing the weighting that should be given to each component. We don’t want to create any more work for content editors but we can at least rank editorial content above the fold, while still providing access to all the services. We also realised we can design image components on the homepage for reuse elsewhere on the site. This negates the need for bespoke templates for pages that warrant a more visual treatment, saving time.

Earlier conversations with Customer Services paid off when we populated the contact page. We’re not in a position to implement chat bots yet but we have been able to encourage self-service with a simple content redesign. That, in conjunction with direct links on the homepage to key tasks, will hopefully encourage users to seek out what they need 24/7 instead of having to wait for the doors to open downstairs. 

Generally, our users want to be in and out of the Hackney website with minimal fuss. As a heads-up, we’ve added reading times to pages that will take more than a minute to read. Don’t say you weren’t warned, people. 

Lest we lose all of this lovely content, we’ve implemented daily backups using the All In One WordPress Migration plugin, at the princely sum of $99. This means we can restore a clean installation in a matter of minutes. The whole content management system is only 121MB so we’re not breaking the Internet here. The frontend of the website is backed up in GitHub.

Now we’ve done all this designing and coding, we could potentially launch the templates as a theme on WordPress. This would mean other organisations can borrow it and populate with their own content. Our own Intranet site may be the first to try it out.

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