Planning for Councillors

A nice little project this, that we developed for our friends at NALC. It’s a site introducing some of the issues around planning, particularly aimed at parish councillors.

We did the design and built the WordPress template, while the guys at NALC provided the content for us to build the pages.

The purpose of the site is really to drive traffic to NALC’s e-learning platform (provided by my good chums at Learning Pool) as well as to other online learning resources about planning.

We wanted the site to have a nice and bright, informal feel that perhaps not many websites in this particular sector tend to feature, and are pretty pleased with the results!

WordPress for local government

wordpressWordPress, the open source content management system that I use here on this blog, is growing in its utilisation across government. It took root a bit quicker in central government, with the Number 10 site, Defra, Wales Office and the Department of Health, amongst others, using WordPress to deliver some or all of their web content.

There’s increasing evidence of its use in local government too, mostly for micro-sites rather than being used as the main content management system for a council’s corporate website. Take the ‘digital press office’ sites at Shropshire or Birmingham, for example.

Carl Haggerty recently blogged about two new WordPress sites Devon County Council have published – a newsroom site and a networking site for social care commissioning.

Some councils have the capacity to run their own servers for hosting WordPress, and to keep the software maintained, templates developed and so on – which is great. But what about those authorities that lack the in-house knowledge, or perhaps just the time?

At Kind of Digital, we are currently supporting one district council to make the most of WordPress by supplying a comprehensively supported platform to run multiple WordPress sites for a small yearly subscription fee.

The platform provides:

  • a dedicated virtual private server hosting a WordPress multisite instance, with no limit on the number of sites hosted
  • maintenance of the software, plugins and themes, with regular upgrades taking place
  • daily backups both locally and to the cloud and an SLA guaranteeing uptime and availability
  • telephone, web and email support, and written and video-based documentation and guidance
  • a number of training and consultancy days every year to help people use the platform to its potential
  • a number of templates to use on sites, including microsites, blogs, commentable documents, consultation sites and much more

The organisation will soon start to see considerable savings as microsites hosted in a number of locations are brought together and re-hosted on the multisite platform.

We’re already talking to a couple of other organisations about supporting them with a similar arrangement. As I mentioned above, many organisations can support WordPress perfectly easily themselves – but for those that need a helping hand, we’ve got a nice system ready and waiting to go.

Interested? Drop me line!

What happened to November?

April may well be the cruellest month, but for me November was the busiest – and the illest (as in, I’ve been poorly. I’m not starting to talk “street”, you’ll be pleased to know*) as well.

Kind of Digital seems to have had time to get settled in now, and we’ve so much work on it’s meaning that I have no time for blogging or emailing any more, which is a real shame – even with the team growing all the time. I’m looking forward to some time over Christmas to get my thoughts together and start publishing here a bit more often.

Here’s a quick run through some of the stuff we’ve been doing this month:

  • I had a lovely trip to Oslo and met with representatives from all the ministries making up the central government there to talk about how we do digital in the UK and what the two sides could learn from each other. There’s a proper blog post brewing on this one.
  • UKGovCamp tickets were released and sold out in a matter of minutes. The two day format seems to have gone down well with most, and we should see some real outputs from the event this year. We still need sponsors, and if you are interested in being involved, do drop me a line.
  • We’ve been beavering away on a great project for Consumer Focus which will hopefully emerge soon. It’s an online database of digital engagement methods, which we will be developing to include case studies and links to examples. Searching will be done by choosing various variables from dropdowns and sliders, so you can choose the type of interaction you want, the demographics you want to reach and so on, and a list of the best methods for you will then be presented.
  • We’ve also been covering some events for the LGA as part of their healthy communities programme. This involved live blogging keynotes speakers, video interviews with various people involved, taking photos of the action and tweeting updates as well. All the content is presented on a microsite which we developed and hosted, and having done two events in Bristol and London, we’re next up at the late event in Leeds on 8th December. If you’d like to get your events documented in this way, you know where I am.
That’s probably about it. We’ve another couple of busy weeks in December coming up and then things wind down for the festive period. I’m looking forward to it!

* Yes, I know. I’m turning into Alan Partridge.