Not one of my more informative posts, this one, more a cry for help.
I’ve been approached by a couple of councillors to develop a website for them, and I’m interested to know what sort of features would be required for such a site to be considered best of breed.
- Blog style layout
- Events/meeting listings
- Local maps
- Easy methods of contact
- Feedback through comments, etc
None of these seem particularly exciting to me! Anyone got anything really good that ought to be included – or great examples of Councillor websites?
Easy republishing of media – video, audio. Dare I say live chat for surgeries?
You may dare.
Also, you’re right re: media.
It could be possible to have a map with pins in showing issues picked up/people spoken to/events attended.
I know I’d appreciate my local councillors being more open with the communities they engage with.
Thanks Ben – am investigating some google maps stuff – fingers’ crossed they do what you describe.
Cllr Harrington up in Stockton does Skype surgeries – something we’ll be having a bash at this year.
On the blog thing – simplicity is vital.
Functionality can be useful…but there’s no point having bells and whistles if the Cllrs involved aren’t familiar/engaged/confident in using them. I’m sure you know that…but worth a mention as the design ought to follow their own personal preferences and use etc.
So….if they’re on twitter or FB you’d expect integration with those platforms on the site. Similarly if they’re using Eventbrite (or something) for events, you might integrate with that.
Being able to leave comments on posts is good – but they need to respond to them, or be clear that they won’t (which would probably put off all but spambots anyway).
My basic point is that the starting point needs to be ‘how do you want to use the website and how do you currently use the web etc?’.
but assuming that’s all sorted……a few other ideas you may want to consider.
you could include some links to public data – i’m thinking particularly of ward stats such as SEE UK’s – http://apps.seme4.com/see-uk/ – and some interactive maps. there are various (almost endless!) directions you could take this in, particularly mapping public services in the area, or civil society groups (eg theeciviccrowd.org theplacestation.org.uk or openlylocal.com).
could also link to voting record and other theyworkforyou data.
then there are loads of useful apps which could be linked too – as i guess (thinking of the ‘customer journey’ for visitors) many people will visit a cllr’s www to get a problem dealt with – which may or may not actually be something the Cllr can sort directly. so….things like fixmystreet. dunno which…but it may be helpful to think along those lines.
anyway…that’s my tuppence worth. hope it’s of some (small) use
Thanks Toby – I’ve been asking all those questions!
Thanks for the other tips too!
wouldn’t it be best just to train them to use wordpress.com help with some domain mapping and offer top up classes after a few months – teach a man to fish and all that
see this one http://callylabourcouncillors.org.uk/ in kings cross which is simple and efective
Hi Will – I get where you’re coming from! However I saw this as an opportunity to do something a bit different and maybe put some bits together that work exactly as a councillor might want.
Is this a trick question?
WordPress, WordPress, WordPress.
I wish I could think of a sexier answer, I know I’m always trying to think of something sexier to do with mine, but the numbers of people who want something really sexy are very small and few if any are ward residents: the cost of time probably outweighs the benefit.
While I’ve got a number of people who seem to be regular readers, most people come across it via a Google search, which says to me that local content is the ‘killer app’. And when it comes to contact email dominates. Virtually no-one writes to me anymore (either via the Town Hall or my home address) and I get very few phone calls. Everyone emails and, if they are looking at a website I’d bet there’s a 100% chance they can email.
I’ve toyed with other ideas. Like video, or FaceTime surgeries, but keep coming to the conclusion that simplicity is the best.
Thanks James, great to get your insight here. And yes, my plan is to use WordPress. Seems the consensus is that content is the key feature. Who’d have thunk it?
She’s not a local councillor, but Jon Worth has recently been doing some work for an MEP which I think is quite an interesting site for a politician:
I still like Simon D’s newsfeed approach on Lynne Featherstone’s site, too:
If a high level of online skills are assumed, to make something unique I think the key areas are contact and feedback.
Integrate something like http://getsatisfaction.com for getting in touch and reporting issues, and as Toby said, use something like Eventbrite for booking in surgery sessions.
As well as promoting a skype contact showing online/offline, you could arrange and let people book hangouts on Google+ for topical discussions (again using eventbrite).
Getting more social, link in a foursquare account so show where they are and what they’re doing.
For it all to work it’s got to be updatable on the move – wordpress, foursquare, skype apps running on a smartphone would keep them connected all the time if they’ve got the skills.
Getting councillors to think digital and social when on the move all the time will be quite a challenge – it could be a terrible failure if the content isn’t there.