Yesterday it was my pleasure to spend time with the team at Bradford council who are working on their digital platform. It was especially a privilege as yesterday saw the latest version of their digital platform being available for the public. It was the mark of a very radical shift.
Inspired by the work being done at national government level – which has spread to other countries and also into local government – the team at Bradford council want to make their digital platform simpler, clearer, and better, for their users: their citizens. They want to make sure their service meets a recognised standard as much as it can.
That team have been doing a lot of hard work to make it simple. Seeing what is important. Seeing what they need to keep. Seeing what they need to throw away. What needs to be improved. How it will be improved. How will it be easier to update, regularly. Their focus on content and making sure that content is relevant, effective, and understandable by their users is to be applauded. They have also been able to look at the technology running their platform and start again. They have been prudent with their spending, and embraced open source solutions. And have ensured that anything “off the shelf” meets needs first and foremost.
The team have also been winning minds, explaining why this is important, why this needs to happen. And there is strong support within the council where it matters. This team isn’t working in isolation as well. There is a strong community in the council to join services touchpoints up.
I got a peek at what people interact with the council through the web presence. There are some big numbers there. Some big numbers. And in some cases those interactions are transactions - requests for services, payments. This glimpse stressed the reliance and the importance that a public body has to have a usable, easy to understand, guiding service. And this team are on with that.
The team are also striving to make the site as accessible as possible. Talk of getting rid of even more PDFs is just part of their continual journey and one of many things the team is pushing for to have an inclusive platform.
This team’s resources didn’t stretch to as much user research as they would have liked. But they want to do more, and with the platform they have in place they feel they will get more response from users. Their “do, not yet done” approach means they will always be in beta. They will be listening and they will act on that response to shape their digital platform.
This team, this work is made of the right stuff. This is genuinely amazing work. This is transformative work, for the users of the service and also within the council itself. And as a citizen of Bradford it was doubly cheering to see. Another local government team gets on with making something that works for the people it is there for - the citizens. Hooray!
They deserved some stickers and got some.
You can read the team’s thoughts about their work on their blog. You can see the fruits of this team’s hard work at bradford.gov.uk. The team would appreciate your visit - and they will be listening to your feedback and acting on it.