As one of the editors working on Inside government, visiting departments to introduce people to the platform can be really rewarding. Last month I went to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to help them with their final preparations for the move of their website to GOV.UK.
Working closely with GDS, the digital team in DCLG has been toiling hard for several months to complete the migration of most of their site. They now need to make sure that everything is in place so the ‘hop’ from one publishing system to another goes smoothly, leaving everyone looking as unruffled as possible.
What are they leaving behind?
With their existing site, the DCLG team is currently hunkered over an unwieldy off-the-shelf CMS. Pages cannot be dynamically updated and are all fixed to a tree structure. This means there are often several layers between users and the information they need to find. Just adding a set of related documents can be a slow process involving multiple browser windows and placing heavy demands on an editor’s short-term memory.
The editors I met were ready to embrace something a lot more lightweight and adaptable to host their hundreds of publications, guidance documents and data sets. We’ve worked really closely with them to make sure that the tools we’ve been building for them are fit for purpose, and meet their users’ needs.
A helping hand
As with any migration, the editors had to make sure the pages were in a fit state after the transition. One big plus is that we made sure it would be easy for them to make improvements as they moved their content across.
We also made sure that the information architecture would be simple and quick to master. Editors can quickly ‘tag’ content to different categories or topics. Tools under the hood of GOV.UK do the rest.
Editors found the publishing tool easy to use – we’ve heard a few appreciative gasps as some of the more intuitive Markdown commands are demonstrated.
Usually it takes only an hour to train editors thanks to Will Callaghan’s excellent manual. The manual is a short, visual tour of the publishing tool which handily doubles up as a slide presentation. The editors can then discover the rest for themselves, or review the training session in their own time.
Ready to go
The editors I trained are already ‘dual publishing’ (that is, publishing both to the current DCLG website and to Inside Government), making sure their new pages will be populated with up-to-date news when they go live next week.
Hopefully they’re looking forward to saying goodbye to their old CMS on the 15th.