All digital public services have to adhere to standards that are some of the most exacting on the web. This section explains our decisions concerning support for standards - either emerging or currently employed by Councils.
Customers visit a Council website because they want to find a piece of information or carry out a task. They want to do it as quickly and as easily as possible before getting on with something else.
Council websites, therefore, should be designed around tasks, and knowing your top tasks is essential for the design of effective local public services.
The challenges are to:
Of course, this is not a new concept as Socitm have been championing this cause for several years, but designing for top tasks is very different to traditional council website design.
What does this mean in practice for the Council Toolkit?
The foundation is based on Bootstrap - a common design framework.
The idea is to make the assets within the Council Toolkit simple and easy to deploy and use, so that Councils get immediate benefit for little cost.
This common design framework is effectively an open source approach for Councils.
Our design templates for deploying content are deliberately modelled on those employed by GOV.UK. They are fully responsive and they match standard content types such as Guides, Articles or Services as found on gov.uk.
These best practice content templates have been designed and tested by the Government Digital Service to meet the needs of users in accessing public services, and we have adopted their thinking within the Toolkit. The templates are designed for accessibility and are fully responsive to support some key - and highly important - design standards for government services.
They also adhere to the service design approach championed by the Government Service Design Manual.
While still under development, our exemplar open source CMS instance within the Council Toolkit will include a pre-formatted list of Council Services in a shallow information architecture pattern to support the rapid development of public services for any Council.
It will also support a metadata standard based on the ESD Service list, and other elements of the ESD Standard, to allow ease of classification, navigation and search for editors and users alike.
The services list within the CMS instance will be based on top task thinking evident in Councils such Liverpool, Cambridge and Edinburgh, and will adopt the new thinking championed by Soctim.
With the list of services mirroring the core requirements of many Councils, a set of responsive templates that get you going fast, yet with the ability to design the front-end in an inherently flexible way, we hope the Council Toolkit will prove an invaluable resource for Councils facing the difficult and demanding path to effective digital public services in an age of austerity.