Today’s website show and tell

Hi, I’m Will and I’m new to the council’s Digital team. I’ve been here a couple of weeks looking at our offering to businesses big and small across to the city. More to follow when my feet are properly under the table.

I’ve just emerged from a packed 4th floor meeting room at Bartholomew’s House where we held today’s show and tell about the council’s beta website. You can find out more about the beta website in our earlier blogpost.

Ben and Thomas talked about the reasons for launching a beta, the design patterns developed by Clearleft (which look great!) and a new analytics tool, Hotjar, that will help the team take its understanding of the site’s users to new heights. I’ll leave it to Thomas to share more details.

Beta Hotjar show and tell

Did I mention the turnout? Standing room only – as you can see from the photo above.

Thanks Annie for organising and the invite. If you work for the council and would like to attend a future show and tell, or have an idea for one, please post in the comments.

Developing digital – what local government can learn from central government

We recently went to visit GOV.UK, part of the Government Digital Service. We went to see what we in local government can learn from the user-focused digital work happening in central government.


GOV.UK is where to find government services and information.

GOV.UK brought together hundreds of government websites under one domain.

Learning about user research
Learning about user research

A focus on users

The success of GOV.UK largely comes from the focus put on their users. They have a small user research team. This team conducts a wide range of research to find out what users want and how they use existing websites and services.

Research includes usability testing, focus groups, online surveys and visiting people in work places to speak face to face.

Visiting GOV.UK has enforced the need for us to continually speak to you, our users, to ensure what we develop is truly user-focused.

Quality content

The content team at
The content design team at GOV.UK

GOV.UK have a large content design team. The team is split into four sub-teams, who work on business as usual changes. Staff from these teams will sometimes work on larger projects to improve GOV.UK.

The content team work with user research and analytics to look at how people are using the website and ensure they are developing content that is meeting user needs.

Each content change is sent to the relevant Government service for “fact check”.

The content team then use a process called 2i reviewing. Every piece of content that goes online is reviewed by another team member, before it can go live. The purpose of 2i reviewing is to ensure that the content meets the GOV.UK style guide and is consistent across the GOV.UK site.

Having people working for your team who are content experts, to ensure your website is easy to use and navigate, as well as separately checking content for accuracy were two clear messages we took away with us.


GOV.UK have a strong focus on using data to evidence what works and what doesn’t.

Data analysts work alongside user researchers, using Google Analytics.

We met with a data analyst. He showed us how he tracks users’ journeys through the GOV.UK website. This shows if users drop out before they complete a task, the routes into the site. He works with the content team to test ideas on how the site is used are accurate. This ensures that content meets users’ needs and expectations.

The team gave us some good advice on how to use Google Analytics more effectively. We’ll also soon be using heatmapping analytics on our new beta website and our online forms, to gain a deeper understanding of how our users interact with us online.

Moving forward

The projects are currently working on
The projects GDS are currently working on

We will embed a lot of what we learned at GOV.UK in to the work we are doing as part of the council’s customer first in a digital age programme (CFDA).

We want digital developments that we release to the public to be:

  • focused around user needs
  • usable across devices and browsers
  • easy to read and understand
  • free of errors
  • simple to transact online

Some of the digital developments already in place:

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.