Web services governance
This governance framework outlines the objectives of Buckinghamshire Council - Wycombe area web services, explains management roles and processes for colleagues and users, and sets out good practice principles for ongoing improvement.
The council's websites, intranet and digital media (or 'web services') are intended to provide:
- accessible and easy-to-use services
- relevant, accurate and up-to-date information
- communications channels to inform and engage
Roles and responsibilities
Management and development of council websites is the responsibility of the Web team as part of the Corporate Communications team with support and advice from Communications, Policy and ICT colleagues.
Ensuring their information is always up to date is the responsibility of each service. Heads of service are accountable for the accuracy of this information and will ensure suitable representatives monitor their information on a regular basis, making updates as required.
New web services
Requests and questions about new web services, including online forms, should be made to the Web team and include an explanation of the user need in each case. Services must adhere to WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standards. The Web team will also review changes to existing pages for consistency of presentation and as part of the publishing workflow process.
Usability and accessibility testing
The Web team carries out usability and accessibility testing before new web services go live. This is either carried out in-house or by a panel of external users.
We are always working to improve our website and make it as easy as possible to:
- find content
- access services
- carry out transactions quickly and efficiently
- find relevant information
Feedback on our website
Please feel free to provide us your feedback and let us know what we can be doing better.
You are also more than welcome to use the Council website usability dashboard (external website) to carry out self-serve online testing for our website or any other council website at any time. These testing results inform the improvements we make to the website.
Requests for new digital content should be submitted to the Web team. Dependent upon the nature and quality of the content, they will:
- approve the request for immediate action
- review the request in more detail, which may require asking for clarification from the requester
- decline the request, explaining why it is not appropriate - for example, if there is no clear need, if it's an editorial request or if the need can be met with existing content
Updates to existing content should only be made where there is a change in the service. Changes can be made by department editors, adhering to guidance from the Web team. The Web team may ask for clarification from the content editor or recommend changes to help maintain quality and user focus.
Information should be published in HTML format unless there is a clear need to do otherwise, in which case other open formats, including PDF and CSV, should be used. We will not publish scanned documents unless the documents are not available in any other format.
Official documents should be made available online as part of the publishing process, adhering to the council's records management guidelines.
All online content should be designed around user needs. We will use evidence to determine user needs and test content against those needs.
Content should be written using plain English, avoiding jargon and legalise, and must comply with the corporate style guide.
We aim to publish once, but make available across channels. In simplest terms this means linking to existing content. We will use technology to achieve this where possible - for example, through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs).
Information intended for public use should be published on wycombe.gov.uk and made available to staff through links on the intranet where necessary. Where information is provided by another organisation, the councils content should link to it to avoid duplication.
How to question a decision
If you are unhappy with a publishing decision, please discuss the issue again with your Web team contact, considering alternatives. If the issue still cannot be resolved it can be escalated to web management and then, if necessary, to the Corporate Communications Team Leader and Head of Democratic, Legal and Policy Services.
Structure and design
The structure of our websites, including changes to information architecture and navigation, is informed by the analysis of usage data and by emerging good practice.
Homepages and navigation are focused first on user needs and top customer tasks, with access to council news and campaigns also provided. Changes must not be influenced by opinion or personal preference.
Visual design (including use of colour, text style and page layout) must focus on the needs of site users and adhere to council branding guidelines, but not be driven by it.
Usability and functionality
The Web team should be involved at the earliest stage to advise on the usability and functionality of online third party applications. This includes the use of online forms and processes.
We aim to work with third party providers to improve usability and functionality based upon user needs and compliance with our standards and policies.
Forums and discussion
The intranet and Yammer will provide a forum for discussion, sharing and comment, to encouraging communication and collaboration across department and location boundaries.
Posts and comments must adhere to Information Security Acceptable Usage Guidelines and norms of workplace behaviour. Inappropriate use of discussion tools may be subject to disciplinary action. House rules will be published on the intranet.
Review and improvement
To maintain high quality web services, we will continuously review and improve this site, aiming to work to the principles of the Local Government Digital Service Standard.
Web Services officers will meet regularly with service areas to support the needs of the business and requests for changes will be considered against the performance of pages.
This framework will be reviewed regularly to take account of changes in technology, accountabilities and emerging good practice.