Daily note for 26 January 2024

Remember my course! It might be really helpful for you or a colleague!

Excellent podcast about what Iran is up to these days.

Giles thinks learning materials in organisations ought to be better quality, and of course he is right.

Simon Wardley shares some thoughts on project delivery that are well worth reading.

The Future Councils Playbook is a “set of tools to help you understand complex problems and their impact”. These are useful of course, and as much good practice support we can get out there the better. But a step change in local government digital quality is unlikely to result from such things – we need more.

More Simon Wardley – this is a fun new intro to his mapping, etc:

Yesterday I made use of Colin Stenning’s excellent local gov CMS research to help write an options appraisal for a council’s new website technology. What a legend!

What content management systems are used in local government?

Just before I went on holiday, I spent a bit of time one evening researching what content management systems (CMSs) are used by local councils in the UK. A CMS is the software that runs a website, just in case you didn’t know.

The results can be found in this Google Spreadsheet, as well as the summary pie chart above. There’s been a lot of discussion about it on Twitter, which you can follow up from the replies to my original tweet.

I need to give a big thanks to everyone who has helped fill in some of the blanks, but a special thank you to Colin Stenning from Bracknell Forest Council, who has combined some previously research he has done, as well as making other updates to clean the whole thing up a lot better.


  • Jadu is the current market leader, with their own commercial product. 70 councils use it, according to the data at the time of writing
  • Umbraco and Drupal are next, showing a strong use of open source software in the sector. These numbers could potentially increase in the next year, particularly with the LocalGovDrupal project proving very popular. Of course, these open source systems will be supported by a range of different agencies and suppliers. It’s hard to estimate the potential size and variety in this market.
  • GOSS ICM comes next, the fourth most popular in total and the second most popular commercial system
  • Then there’s a bit of a drop, and the Consensis CMS comes next.
  • There are several other open source CMSs in use, including WordPress, Squiz, DNN, Liferay and Joomla
  • There are a couple of councils who appear to be rolling their own CMS rather than using something prebuilt (whether commercial or open source). This strikes me as being rather eccentric, but I’m sure they have their reasons.

The answer for poor council websites?

Finally, and most troubling, on my late night wanderings through the world of local council websites, I came across some that are simply dreadful. There are always reasons for these things, of course, and I wouldn’t want to directly criticise any council or team. Cash strapped local authorities can’t afford the web teams or the technology to do much more.

However, there are solutions out there to help. LocalGovDrupal is shaping up to be the council-website-in-a-box that could solve the problem. Or why not take a leaf out of Tewkesbury’s book, and use the £250 a year SquareSpace service? Yes, opportunities for customisation are limited, but at that price you get something modern, responsive and effective – and zero technical hassle.

The method

I took the URLs for the websites of all councils in the UK from this list on the LGA website. It would appear that it isn’t up to date and misses

Those URLs I chucked into a batch process on whatcms.org (it cost me $10). That detected 257 CMSs. I then started visiting each site that was missing, and checked to see for credits on the site itself or clues in the source code and caught another 50 or so. Since sharing the work on Twitter and other places, some folk have come forward to fill in some other blanks, and thanks to Colin there are almost none left now.

Featured image credit: Sigmund on Unsplash

LINK: “Building the GOV.UK of the future”

We need to prepare for a world where people might not access GOV.UK through their computer or smartphone, but could be using Alexa, Google Assistant or some technology that hasn’t even been created yet. We need to make GOV.UK understandable by humans and machines.

Original: https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2018/06/27/building-the-gov-uk-of-the-future/

LINK: “‘There Is No Public Internet, and [Wikipedia is] the Closest Thing to It’”

…we sort of are a legacy of the original spirit of the web, and that’s very much what the Wikimedia Foundation was created to do — to ensure that Wikipedia was preserved as a nonprofit entity, with respect for community governance, and in the public interest and in the public spirit.

Original: https://medium.com/new-york-magazine/there-is-no-public-internet-and-we-are-the-closest-thing-to-it-54aa63adc2e2

LINK: “Kick-off for the essex.gov.uk project”

To help us understand the ‘as is’ in more detail we’ve gathered insights from available data and call centre staff, tested how easy it is for users to find things on the site and identified some key gaps in understanding around the importance of designing for user need, measurement and accessibility.

Original: https://servicedesign.blog.essex.gov.uk/2018/04/12/kick-off-for-the-essex-gov-uk-project/

Five for Friday (19/5/17)

Five more nuggets of interest I’ve spotted this week:

  1. Jessica Lessin built a business to prove information doesn’t have to be free – great podcast about the different models emerging for journalism online. The Information is a great site, by the way (I’m a subscriber).
  2. The Department for Health’s fantastic digital team are hiring a Content Editor. You have until 28th May 2017 to apply.
  3. The Weird Thing About Today’s Internet – fantastic piece looking at the last ten years of the web.
  4. Making local authority data work for you – useful looking resource on open data delivered by the ODI and LGA in partnership (I think).
  5. James Governor summarises Microsoft’s Build conference for us in three minutes:

These have all been tweeted during the week, and you can find everything I’ve found interesting and bookmarked here.

Working openly on the web

dougbelshawThere was a nice guest post from Doug Belshaw from Mozilla on Brian Kelly’s blog last week.

Entitled What Does Working Openly on the Web Mean in Practice?, it told us a bit about Mozilla’s culture of openness and how it ties into web based working.

Here’s a quick quote:

Working open is not only in Mozilla’s DNA but leads to huge benefits for the project more broadly. While Mozilla has hundreds of paid contributors, they have tens of thousands of volunteer contributors — all working together to keep the web open and as a platform for innovation. Working open means Mozilla can draw on talent no matter where in the world someone happens to live. It means people with what Clay Shirky would call cognitive surplus can contribute as much or as little free time and labour to projects as they wish. Importantly, it also leads to a level of trust that users can have in Mozilla’s products. Not only can they inspect the source code used to build the product, but actually participate in discussions about its development.

But you really ought to go and read the whole thing.

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to: