Case Study - Waltham Forest Council
Waltham Forest: a new build by an in-house team
Waltham Forest’s website hadn’t been looked at for over 5 years. It was built in Drupal 7 which was rapidly approaching end of life.
We didn’t own the codebase, and while we had some in-house capability, we weren’t able to touch things that we knew weren’t meeting user needs. Search was poor, there were accessibility issues, and users complained it was difficult to navigate.
While we had been looking to get a new website project off the ground for some time, much of the team’s attention was rightly focused on the Council’s response to the pandemic.
Why Waltham Forest chose LocalGov Drupal (LGD)
We have written previously in more detail about why we chose LGD, but the short story is it happened more by accident than design.
Our former Head of Digital Melanie Read is a big advocate of Drupal and had seen a presentation at Drupal Con where the LGD team presented. Months later we decided to install it and have a play.
Initially we did minimal theming and built out a section with dummy content to see how it worked as a proof of concept. Our delivery team were happy with the result and pretty much from that point forward, never looked back.
Waltham Forest’s approach
The bulk of resourcing for the project came from salaried staff with a delivery team as follows:
- Senior Full Stack Developer as Tech Lead
- Front End Developer as Creative Lead
- 2 X Apprentice Drupal Developers via a training provider called Happy Computers
- Head of Digital as Delivery Lead
- UX Manager as Product Lead
- Data Analytics Lead
- Project Manager
- 3 X Content Designers
- A freelance Copywriter
User research was conducted in-house. Using Microsoft Teams, we recorded residents using the new website prototype to validate what we’d built and make further improvements.
We did content migration manually, putting content into plain English and co-designing with services and the Resolution Centre whenever possible. The last two to three months were all hands to the pump and we used a Jira dashboard with every page having a ticket as we pushed to meet our deadline.
And we used SiteImprove to fix accessibility issues including dev and content tasks.
How LocalGov Drupal supported the project
When we joined at the beginning of the LGD beta phase, the product was already quite mature. Not only did LGD save us in the region of 3 to 6 months of development time, it helped us to focus on richer features to meet our user needs such as search and events.
The LGD Product Group and wider community of participating councils and suppliers was an invaluable source of insights and expertise to tap into whenever any problems arose. And being an active member of working groups introduced us to new ways of working that we could put into practice into our own team.
LocalGov Drupal saved us 3-6 months of development time and £90k in development costs.
Waltham Forest service teams, members, and call centre staff are pleased with the new website. User satisfaction from residents has improved by 25%. Calls to the resolution centre are 10-15% lower since launch.
Our accessibility score is 96/100 on SiteImprove which is way above the Local Government benchmark of 87, and the Cabinet Office has confirmed that it meets accessibility statutory requirements.
Our page load performance is 40% quicker than on our previous site.
From a long-term digital strategy perspective, we have made it onto Drupal 9 in good time, developed our in-house capabilities, and are in a position to continuously improve our product.
As the LGD product gets even more mature, we’ll be able to take advantage of new features when they are released.
As with anything in life, it is by no means perfect. For example, it can be challenging to navigate the needs of all the councils involved. But so far for Waltham Forest, there have only been positives.
Cumbria case study - an inexpensive experiment with limited resources.
Milton Keynes case study - a full procurement exercise and using an external supplier.
If you would like to find out more or have any questions just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to chat about LocalGov Drupal, provide a demo of the platform, or show how councils are using it.