It’s been a busy month for the programme since the last Showcase. We have received lots of applications from our recruitment drive and are currently in the throes of our assessment days, although we are still open for applications from Developers, fully qualified BA’s, Content Officers and Information Governance applicants.
Internal communications have been prepared relating to the switch to the new website and we will be communicating with Members, managers and all staff before this takes place. We are trying to minimise disruptions and the IAG team will be talking to Services who have been involved with content as well as putting in place redirects for known links from external sites and regularly bookmarked pages which will have a different url on the new site. New scripts are also being prepared for Contact Centre staff to familiarise themselves with the new structure.
If anyone has any queries concerning the switch please get in touch with the website team. The new website will continue to be presented in ‘beta’ form as it is still under development and we will not be promoting our digital offer to the wider public yet.
We have prepared an external marketing campaign promoting the benefits of transacting online in general as well as some of the new user experiences developed and this will be released to the wider public early next year. Whilst we will continue to develop our online offer beyond that point we feel we will have a core of online services by then to enable us to start our campaign.
We are still making progress on infrastructure changes – we are trialling different lightweight devices, different types of connectivity and new technologies, such as handwriting recognition software.
We are getting lots of good feedback from our exemplar project with social workers which will ultimately be rolled out across Stockport Family. This project is not just about providing new tech kit, we are also looking at best practice with the service area and a new way of working and interacting with customers.
Verint, the radically different upgrade to our current case management system, has come out of our trial as the best option to take forward and we will be progressing this over the next couple of weeks.
There are also a number of projects within this workstream where we are addressing an urgent need for a new case management system. We have been testing a new booking system at local advice centres and we have also completed the business analysis for Registrars and we will be developing a solution for them.
Digital Transactions Service
The Council Tax feature is now live on My Account offering:
- access all your accounts for which you are liable
- view your charge for the current year and any outstanding balances across all years
- view any discount or exemption applied to you
- payment amount, method and date
- previous transactions
- upcoming transactions if you pay by Direct Debit
- download your bill and view it in My Account
We have soft released this and are encouraging staff members who are Stockport residents to help us by setting up accounts and feeding back any issues or suggestions for improvements to content. Doing it on a small scale helps us identify and overcome any teething problems as we continue to make improvements to functionality. We have also created a bespoke error page to improve the user experience when problems are experienced.
Our existing street lighting form uses a map which is very difficult to navigate on mobile devices. We are developing a solution to this problem which incorporates:
- a clear address overlay
- easy to use buttons to guide users on zoom etc. feature
- meaningful locations and explanation on how to identify lights by number
- status of reports already generated
- accessibility features for navigation by users of all abilities
Our new map also has the new website look and feel following the style established by our style guide. Whilst this new map feature has been complex to develop it is worth making the point that it is reusable and will be applied to other areas of the new website once developed.
Over the next few weeks we will continue to work on a new online street light form including the update and tracking feature and a solution to reporting multiple streetlight faults.
98% of our old site content is now on the new site. Some content has intentionally not been moved because it will be incorporated into new features still under development. For example the libraries system for community groups which will be replaced by our Group directory, which is still under development. Interactive maps remain on the old site too whilst we are still building the feature described above (although from a user experience point of view it isn’t immediately apparent as we have applied some of the new styling features to the old pages).
Report it, Pay for it and Apply for it
Report it, Pay for it and Apply for it icons have been added to the new website, with work still being undertaken on user experience testing, particularly for the ‘Apply for it’ area. This has been broken up into Applications, Requests for Services and Online Bookings and we are user testing this structure. In addition to the Search bar this gives users another quick way to reach content that may be held deep within the website’s structure, avoiding the need to navigate through a number of IAG menus.
We have also improved Contact Us, an area that experiences a high volume of visits. We have simplified this area so people can be taken straight to the web pages for IAG with the relevant contact form for their query available if they need it. Our goal as always is to help people to find the information they are looking for without having to contact the council, but we will always provide that mechanism in case it is required. Again we are user testing this area.
Newsroom ‘email alerts’ have replaced ‘RSS feed’ in line with our policy to remove jargon from the website. The more people who sign up to get news from the council sent directly to their inbox, the more people will have the information they need already without the need to contact the council. We now have about 8000 people signed up.
The email alert functionality can be added to other areas of the website and we plan to roll it out to specific service pages for example bins or council tax.
We have added categories to our News area, so people can search for and filter council news and information more easily.
We will be introducing a new more powerful search engine before switch. The functionality will not change from the user’s perspective, apart from the search results appearing in front of the web page. We will have the option to include banners at the top of search results relevant to page contents so, for example, out of hours messages regarding flooding could appear against searched for blocked drains. Banners can be added quickly and responsively.