This framework is part of the Kirklees Technology Strategy 2020-2025. It was agreed at Modern Organisation Board in February 2023. The framework provides an approach for managing the council's internet estate and applies to all council websites and other internet services. It provides citizens, partners, businesses, councillors and officers with the best experience possible when using our internet services.
1. Best practice and legislative requirements
Government Design Principles - This is about how our internet services are developed and managed, rather than branding. See Appendix 4 - Government Design Principles.
Legislation and regulations - Website content must meet the requirements of accessibility and other legislation and regulations. See Appendix 3 - Legislation and regulations.
2. Kirklees Council websites: 3 core websites
The council has 3 core websites with a strong centralised presence. These give citizens a seamless user journey to access most council information and transactions. Solutions will primarily be in-house and on these sites, although exceptions for third party websites may be possible when meeting clearly defined criteria.
3. Registration and login for council services
We aim to have 5 registration types for 5 different audiences that generally interact with the council in distinctly different ways:
- Citizens - To do things which allow them to conduct their everyday life.
- Businesses - To do things which allow their business to operate and flourish.
- Third sector - For community or arts organisation to publicise their services and events.
- Partners - For public sector organisations to fulfil their operational relationship with the council (for instance, safeguarding reports).
- Councillors - To fulfil their democratic requirements.
4. Governance structures
Most business-as-usual requests are managed at operational level as far as is appropriate. Support and guidance will be given by colleagues in the IT Digital and Communications and Marketing teams.
Requests for development outside the 3 core sites, but within the framework and principles, will be governed through IT change managers and the Change Advisory Board (CAB).
Escalation routes to monitor and oversee activity will be through the emerging IT Service Boards that are likely to report into the Technology Programme Board and Modern Organisation Board as required.
Higher level escalation will occur where a request to work outside the framework and principles has been made. A request with cross-council impact, or of financial significant, may occasionally be escalated to Transformation Programme Board and Cabinet.
5. Website styles and branding
A task-orientated approach will consider the type of activity online and what its audience expects to receive. It recognises that different citizen personas and audiences expect different things from different services.
Colleagues in the IT Digital and Communications and Marketing teams will:
- help to shape ideas
- identify the best of three styles
- help create a balanced and compelling business case to secure the appropriate level of approval to move forward.
The three website styles are:
- Informational - Provides information and guidance to citizens or other audiences. Characterised by an uncluttered look, optimised for simple navigation, with a minimal number of clicks to find the information required.
- Transactional - Allows citizens to access and resolve requests online. Characterised by self-serve and automated responses that shorten application processes and requests received through online forms.
- Marketing - For services operating in a competitive business marketplace. Characterised by suitable design and imagery which competes within the market.
6. Principles for creating and managing council websites and services
These enable the council to consider improvements to, or creation of, a new website or service. The intention is to help officers create the best experience for citizens. Support and guidance will be available from relevant enabler services such as IT, Communications and Marketing, and Information Governance.
- They must have evidence of the needs and desires of the audience.
- The Government Design Principles should be adhered to throughout.
- All legislative requirements must be met.
- The commissioning service is responsible for content for the life of the site.
- IT support will only be provided to council websites and services, including 3rd party sites, that have been approved through the governance structures.
Enabler services such as IT and Communications and Marketing will not be able to provide support where a service has either not followed this framework, or gained the necessary level of approval through the governance structures.
Prior to this, we had no clear policy on the council's websites. This lead to a chaotic, unmanaged and inconsistent approach to council websites. That gives a poor citizen experience and potentially means that some may not access the services that they need. Citizens see us as one organisation and thus expect a seamless delivery whatever the different services they are accessing. To summarise, we found:
- over 50 council websites with varying quality.
- inconsistent style and branding.
- varying standards and levels of maintenance.
- some 3rd party commissioned websites which are not compliant with accessibility legislation.
Delivering Class Leading Internet services is one of the seven ambitions of the Kirklees Technology Strategy 2020-2025. Several related policies, programmes and projects link to this work. These have been considered as part of the framework and principles:
- The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018
- The Equality Act 2010 relating to other technology not covered by the accessibility act (for instance, Alexa)
- The UK Data Protection Act 2018
- The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
- EU Cookie Law (or ePrivacy Directive)
1. Start with user needs
Service design starts with identifying user needs. If you don't know what the user needs are, you won't build the right thing. Do research, analyse data, talk to users. Don't make assumptions. Have empathy for users, and remember that what they ask for isn't always what they need.
2. Do less
Government should only do what only government can do. If we've found a way of doing something that works, we should make it reusable and shareable instead of reinventing the wheel every time. This means building platforms and registers others can build upon, providing resources (like APIs) that others can use, and linking to the work of others. We should concentrate on the irreducible core.
3. Design with data
In most cases, we can learn from real world behaviour by looking at how existing services are used. Let data drive decision-making, not hunches or guesswork. Keep doing that after taking your service live, prototyping and testing with users then iterating in response. Analytics should be built-in, always on and easy to read. They're an essential tool.
4. Do the hard work to make it simple
Making something look simple is easy. Making something simple to use is much harder - especially when the underlying systems are complex - but that's what we should be doing. Don't take "It's always been that way" for an answer. It's usually more and harder work to make things simple, but it's the right thing to do.
5. Iterate. Then iterate again
The best way to build good services is to start small and iterate wildly. Release 'minimum viable products' early, test them with actual users, move from 'alpha' to 'beta' to live adding features, deleting things that don't work and making refinements based on feedback. Iteration reduces risk. It makes big failures unlikely and turns small failures into lessons. If a prototype isn't working, don't be afraid to scrap it and start again.
6. This is for everyone
Accessible design is good design. Everything we build should be as inclusive, legible and readable as possible. If we have to sacrifice elegance - so be it. We're building for needs, not audiences. We're designing for the whole country, not just the ones who are used to using the web. The people who most need our services are often the people who find them hardest to use. Let's think about those people from the start.
7. Understand context
We're not designing for a screen, we're designing for people. We need to think hard about the context in which they're using our services. Are they in a library? Are they on a phone? Are they only really familiar with Facebook? Have they never used the web before?
8. Build digital services, not websites
A service is something that helps people to do something. Our job is to uncover user needs, and build the service that meets those needs. Of course much of that will be pages on the web, but we're not here to build websites. The digital world has to connect to the real world, so we have to think about all aspects of a service, and make sure they add up to something that meets user needs.
9. Be consistent, not uniform
We should use the same language and the same design patterns wherever possible. This helps people get familiar with our services, but when this isn't possible we should make sure our approach is consistent. This isn't a straitjacket or a rule book. Every circumstance is different. When we find patterns that work we should share them, and talk about why we use them. But that shouldn't stop us from improving or changing them in the future when we find better ways of doing things or the needs of users change.
10. Make things open: it makes things better
We should share what we're doing whenever we can. With colleagues, with users, with the world. Share code, share designs, share ideas, share intentions, share failures. The more eyes there are on a service the better it gets - howlers are spotted, better alternatives are pointed out, the bar is raised.