Cllr Phil Hobson, MCC’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for communications said:
“This site is innovation in action. As the most up to date council web site in Wales, it gives users the widest range of options. Unlike our previous site, carries no annual charge to the council. Providing better services for less money is exactly what our approach to innovation is about and I am proud that we have been able to deliver such an excellent site for all the communities we serve.”
Instead of paying monthly or annual software subscriptions we have embraced a new way of working, through sharing software and code. The entire cost of the project has been less than six months subscription to our web site and there will be no on-going costs for taxpayers.
Some of the big changes include work into making the website more accessible, making the website responsive and the online experience more personal.
We have worked with the Digital Accessibility Centre in Neath to make the site more accessible to those that may have additional browsing needs. This is including attention to detail with the colours selected, ensuring they are the in line with the internationally recognised W3C web standards for accessibility and using the correct ratios of contrast for users with colour blindness or visual impairments. We have also embraced a new content tone of voice guide, rewriting the content in plain English so every resident can understand council processes.
The new website is responsive, meaning it rearranges the content on the page to fit the device being use. It’s the same website but will resize and move content areas to make mobile browsing easier.
The final big change is the personalisation of the website. This is not a compulsory service but aims to add value. Users can register for an account which enables them to customise their own navigation list on the homepage. The registration on the site also allows them to comment on posts and pages on the site and openly communicate with the council and other residents. In theory, if one resident has a question, many others may have the same one, enabling us to answer several people at once. The personalisation on the web will be developed to personalise services in the future to improve user journeys and online experiences.
The new website has received positive attention from other Welsh authorities who now would like to work with Monmouthshire on digital developments. We will continue to improve and develop it, working with residents, businesses and services to make on line services more available and easier to access.