Web services governance
This governance framework outlines the objectives of Wycombe District Council (WDC) 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 Services 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 Services Team and include an explanation of the user need in each case. We can help services to identify these by guiding them through a discovery process to find out:
- who the likely users are and what they’re trying to do
- how they do it currently
- the problems or frustrations they experience
- what users need from the service to achieve their goal
Services must adhere to AA accessibility standards. We will also review changes to existing pages for consistency of presentation and as part of the publishing workflow process.
Usability and accessibility
The Web Services Team must 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. They will work with third party providers to improve usability and functionality based on user needs and compliance with WDC standards and policies.
We will do usability and accessibility testing before new web services go live. This will either be carried out in-house or by a panel of external users. The project manager is responsible for scheduling in enough time for testing to be carried out in liaison with the Web Services Team.
Requests for new digital content should be submitted to the Web Services 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 Services Team. We 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 will produce a new web content strategy in early 2018.
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, WDC 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 Services 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 WDC 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.
Forums and discussion
The intranet and Yammer provide a forum for discussion, sharing and comment, 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 are 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.
Statistics and other usage data will be routinely published and analysed to highlight performance and opportunities for improvement. Web Services officers will meet regularly with service areas to support the needs of the business and requests for changes will be considered against these analytics.
Periodic qualitative evaluation should also be made to gather more specific or topical views from users, through surveys, polls, online forums and face to face conversations.
This framework will be reviewed regularly to take account of changes in technology, accountabilities and emerging good practice.