My digital journey through Brighton & Hove City Council

Today is my last day managing the Digital Communications Team at Brighton & Hove City Council. As I move on to pastures new, I’ve been reflecting on the two years I’ve spent working here.

The digital landscape is constantly changing, as is the way that residents want to interact with the council.

Customer First in a Digital Age

This change is something the council have been addressing through the Customer First in a Digital Age (CFDA) programme, and it’s been a key part of what I’ve been involved in. I’ve been proud to lead a talented and passionate UX (user experience) and content team, who are striving to improve the council’s digital offering to the residents and businesses of the city.

Some of the changes I’ve been involved in delivering include:

Moving on

As the Digital Communications Team and the CFDA programme move forward and I move on, I’m confident this digital customer focus will only increase, and that the team will continue to deliver digital experiences that are truly user focused.

Ben Hills-Jones, signing off for the last time….


A new beta website for Brighton & Hove City Council

As part of the work we’re doing to transform our digital services, we’re looking at the current Brighton & Hove City Council website.

The site has over 5,000 pages and can sometimes be difficult to navigate and find what you’re looking for. Some of the pages are also too long and not written clearly enough.

Improving the user experience

To improve the experience for our users, we’ve been looking at:

  • the number of pages on the site
  • the sections of the site
  • the navigation around the site
  • the analytics about how people use the site
  • the content that’s on the pages, and
  • the design of the site.

We want to create a new website for the city of Brighton & Hove which is:

  • well written, using plain English
  • task-focused
  • user-focused
  • transactional (allowing users to self serve online)
  • simple to navigate, and
  • accessible on a range of browsers and mobile devices.

    Our new beta website
    Our new beta website

As part of this development of a new website, we’ve launched a new ‘beta’ website.

What is a beta website?

GOV.UK state that “The ‘beta’ label means you’re looking at the first version of a new service or web page”.

To create this beta site, we worked with a local agency to conceive a new design.

The design is based on the concept of ‘patterns’. Patterns are a repeatable solution to commonly occurring issues, tasks or functions that can reused across multiple sites.

Our patterns will be used across a variety of sites and other digital channels, such as the new ‘My Account’ site.

The new site is a work in progress, and currently only has limited content.

Over the coming months we will start to create more content on the new site.

Tell us what you think….

We’re always keen to hear what you think, so please either:


Analysing our digital data – how do people interact with Brighton & Hove City Council online?

Hove City Council Homepage
The way our residents, businesses and visitors interact with us online is always changing.

We’re always keen to know how our customers choose to engage with us, so we’ve put together a snapshot of how people use our website as well as social media channels.

If you have any questions about the data below, please email

Data from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016

  • had 4,477,746 visits.
  • This is up from 4,219,585 visits the previous year (1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015).
  • We had 54% returning visitors and 46% new visitors.

What our website visitors are most interested in

  1. Planning
  2. Jobs
  3. Car parks
  4. Parking & parking permits
  5. Contact the council
  6. Recycling centres
  7. Elections
  8. School holiday & term dates
  9. Libraries
  10. Council Tax

How people find the website

  1. Search – 71% (70% previous year)
  2. Direct (bookmark or typed in URL) – 14% (11% previous year)
  3. Referral (links from other sites) – 13% (17% previous year)
  4. Social sharing – 2% (1.5% previous year)

Desktop, mobiles and tablets

  1. Desktop – 51% (previous year was 58%)
  2. Mobile – 34% (previous year was 26%)
  3. Tablet – 15% (previous year was 16%)

SOCITM Better Connected 2015 – a snapshot of all local authority websites

Every year our website is ranked against 415 other local authority websites. In 2015 we were ranked:

  • 15th nationally by usage (new entry in the top 20)
  • 10th nationally by share of the population (up 7 places from previous year)
  • 2nd most visited English unitary authority website
  • 1st most visited website in the south east.

Social media

As of May 2016, we had:


From 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 we:

  • sent out 3,992 tweets
  • gained 9,415 followers
  • had 98,584 visitors to our Twitter profile page, and
  • had 11,546 mentions.