Building perfectly open websites

Today I spoke at a SOCITM conference on Building Perfect Council Wesbsites. The title’s a bit funny, I think. Perfection is an impossible goal. But the great thing about the web is that you can keep on perfecting. Maybe they should have called the event building better and even better websites, but I suppose that sounds lame.

In the morning we heard from Chris Chant, Director of Digital at the Cabinet Office, about being digital by default, about how we need to think about the user experience from the beginning to end and how we can reflect that improved service design through the online experience.

Then we heard about the rise of the app. For me, I’m unconvinced. I love my apps, I do. But I’d rather see a more ‘perfect’ mobile web experience – unless it’s an action I often repeat (like flinging a bird into some pigs!) or a website I visit all the time which makes my experience better or something that helps me take better advantage of the native features of smart phones. Then, yes please! Give me an app. Certainly, I think there’s a place for the app – where do you think it fits in a perfect council website?

I spoke on the future of open council websites. For me that means how a council website encourages openness, transparency and engagement with the public. But an open council website is also one which is an interactive part of the wider web. It’s about publishing both data and documents (documents are data, too – but you know what I mean). I think there’s a lot that could be done, fairly easily and fairly quickly to make council websites more open.


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