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Microsites Working Group updates

This is a regularly updated post containing information on our Microsites Working Group. The aim is to keep everyone updated on the direction and progress of the work we’re doing. If you have any questions please drop us a line the #product-microsites Slack channel.

 

Microsites Resources

Also see:

 

 

Update #3 - 30/03/2022

The microsites project is now well underway with sprint planning beginning this week. Exciting!.

We’ve had two additional discovery sessions, run by Richard from our supplier Agile Collective. These focused on understanding council wants and needs, building consensus around our plans for the project and defining the aims in an open and collaborative way.

About 15 councils contributed to the process which has given us a real depth and quality to the sessions and their outputs. Thanks to all those who participated.  

 

Deciding on wants and needs

Much of the discussion in the sessions focused on defining the wants and needs of councils. 

After much deliberation we came up with 10 key themes:

  • A better experience for citizens
  • Enhanced permissions - delegation of roles at a microsite level
  • Easy to manage sites for council digital teams
  • Save time and money for councils
  • Cut down on the number of microsites per council
  • Replace existing microsites
  • Create customisable microsites
  • Create feature heavy sites (using all current LGD functionality)
  • Compatibility with analytics
  • Councils happy with the process and product

The final agreed goals (or success criteria) in each theme were sketched out and will be agreed collectively at the next session.

You can find them on the Miro board.

 

Roles and responsibilities

We also started to look at roles and responsibilities within the Microsites project team.

We appointed a ‘Product Team’ made up of representatives from councils who can give a little more time to the project. This group will be integral in helping define and prioritise requirements, and to represent the needs of a range of end users from content designers to service users.

The group will also help to organise and attend workshops and act as support and back up to the Product Owner.

On the product team are:

  • Tim from Bath and Somerset Council
  • Jamie from Wirral Council
  • David from Waltham Forest Council
  • Shazia from Blackburn Council

Thanks for stepping up to the plate!

The Product Owner was confirmed as Will Callaghan (our Product Lead), and he’ll make any final decisions about requirements and priorities for the project in consultation with the product and wider teams. Other feature developments such as HTML publications and Local Offer/ directories are likely to have different Product Owners.  

The Microsites Working Group will now meet on a Monday at 10:00am. We’ll keep everyone up to date on progress on this blog, in the newsletter and at product meetings.

 

Sprint planning

The first sprint planning meeting took place on Wednesday 30th March

This focused on resourcing, meeting planning, sprint goals and the sprint backlog.

For the first sprint we decided on the following goals:

  • Confirm Drupal architecture for the content / users / permissions  (eg Domain Access, Micro_Site, Taxonomy, Groups, Tome)
  • Define the minimum configuration options for theme look and feel control
  • Establish an  assumptions log / list
  • Collate and summarise existing research on Microsites
  • Produce concise case studies on existing microsite solutions. 

You can find more info in the minutes of the sprint planning meeting.

We now also have a Microsite project board on Github. (You’ll need to sign in to see this)

 

 

Update #2 - 07/03/2022

New Microsites Supplier

We're happy to announce that Agile Collective has won the contract to deliver our microsites work.

Their application stood out in a very competitive field, especially their vision for what Microsites could be, and their commitment to working with our 24 councils to find the best solutions. Their proposed team was strong, and includes:

  • Finn Lewis 
  • Stephen Cox 
  • Kester ‘Ekes’ Edmonds 
  • Mark Conroy (of Annertech)
  • Maria Young
  • Richard Rowley
  • James Hall
  • Alexandra Clark (of TellTale Research)

We can't wait for them to join the Microsites Working Group and deliver the project alongside our councils.  

Thanks to everyone who responded to the procurement, we hope to be able to work with you all in the future. If you've asked us for feedback, we'll provide this shortly.

Thanks also to those who helped to assess the proposals.

 

From the latest discovery session

Last week we discussed what the minimum viable product might look like, and put forward seven key points:

  1. All the LGD content types will be available.
  2. Users have the ability to set colours using form fields.
  3. Distinct roles for editing, creating and customising microsites. Councils can assign roles as they wish.
  4. Focused internal search on the microsite content.
  5. The option to add a subdomain.
  6. It will lie within the same instance of LGD, not a separate one.
  7. We'll show you how to... a) set a custom domain, if you have developers b) create a completely custom theme (if you have design/ front end experience)

This lead to a number of questions, including:

  • What are the pros and cons with one instance versus two?
  • Will content ever need to be shared across different microsites?
  • What's the design process for a microsite? (eg to avoid garish colours)

We intend to start answering these in the coming weeks.

For all the questions and comments see the Miro board.

 

Update #1 - 23/02/2022

Thanks to funding from the Local Digital Fund {link} we’re delighted to have begun the ‘Discovery Phase’ of our Microsites work.

Councils are often burdened with countless microsites - satellite sites off their main gov.uk presence. They are made in all sorts of ways, using different technologies. Accessibility, security and UX are often poor. The first a digital team often hears about them is when they're hit by a virus, and no one has the keys or know-how to fix it.

As with all LocalGov Drupal features, the aim is to give content designers the tools they need to do their job. So when a request to build a microsite arrives, they're able to easily assess whether the content should be standalone, or sit on the main council website. 

If a new microsite is needed, the content designer should be able to create it there and then, using all existing LocalGov Drupal content formats. They should also be able to customise the design to a limited extent themselves, or pull in CSS developed by others.

 

Timeline and procuring a supplier

The supplier (Agile Collective) is in place and we aim to have a partial brief ready for them by 17th March. 

Around 20 councils have been represented at our sessions so far.  It’s very heartening to find that we’re all more or less on the same page and as ever it’s great to collaborate with so many amazing developers, content designers and others.

The sessions in this phase cover:

  1. Group aim and domain
  2. What's in and out based on our research (see our Miro board)
  3. What’s the proposition (see our Miro board)
  4. What are the essential features of microsites? (see our Miro board)
  5. Ownership. Who creates them and what do they need to do? (3rd March)
  6. Review session with supplier (17th March)

 

The Proposition

Based on work done by Croydon Council and some of our own research we decided on the following: 

What’s in scope:

  • Need met entirely or partly by the council, but needs separate branding (eg commercial, partnership type sites)
  • Need met by a third party related to the council
  • Need met by third party unrelated to the council

What’s out of scope:

  • Council information and advice (should be on main council site)
  • Council information and advice that needs to be more "visual" (should use LGD subsites)
  • Simple council form (use LGD forms)
  • Complex council transaction (need 3rd party sites)

 

Features 

Following on from our Microsites research and the current experience of councils, we have decided on a number of features to include in the supplier brief:

  • Create and deploy new sites
  • Councils set permissions as needed
  • Manage a range of sites with a single login
  • Text search for content within a subsite
  • Branding, fonts, nav position, padding controlled in a WYSIWYG
  • Full customisation of any site using CSS
  • Microsites pull in all content types
  • Refine homepage set up and layout options

There are still a number of other items currently under discussion such as  a revised ‘News’ format to allow blogging, and a number of items that we decided were out of scope, for example job applications. 

We’ve looked at some examples of Microsites we think are representative of what we need to build. These included:

There are more examples on the Miro board 

Contact us to find out more and join the collaboration.