Bangor-based websites beat government giants
2012-11-19 17:59:06 - Just because a web presence only has a small team to develop and maintain it, there is no reason why it cannot challenge the giants. Take the case of the Countryside Council for Wales, the wildlife conservation authority, which recently took first second and third place in the Sitemorse Central Government web benchmark, beating more than 300 other government websites, including those of all the main offices of state.
With a three-man team and a sensible budget, the CCW has applied a methodical process to improving both their main site and its satellites; a main ingredient of the successful mix has been the Sitemorse platform now called the Web Manager’s Toolkit. We spoke to Cameron Edwards, Bangor-based Web Manager of the CCW, to find out more about his clearly
The Countryside Council for Wales launched their current website in 2007, with a mission of making it as “future –proofed” as possible. Boasting clean semantic code and some very strict standards, a flexible testing strategy was used from the offset to test their new baby. The goal was to ensure the site performed optimally and offered the best advantage to its wide reader base.
“We have a small team, all of whom wear several hats, within a total organisation of around 525 people - so we are under considerable pressure to deliver quite a lot” Cameron told us.”From the outset we tested our work using a number of different methods, of which automated testing was a very important part.
“My team, developer Llyr Jones and content administrator Paula Mercer, find Sitemorse easy to work with. The relatively simple interface allows us to stay on top of concerns and the team has a weekly work plan. Essentially, we spend one to two days a week honing and tuning the site based on the Sitemorse data, to ensure we maintain the original high standards we set ourselves.” said Cameron.
A number of micro-sites examine particular CCW projects and campaigns – including their “Green Wales” site, aimed at showcasing CCW’s green organisation credentials for the benefit of other institutions, and their ‘Countryside Code’ microsite.
A very recent launch includes the new ‘Wales Coast Path’ microsite, highlighting the 870-mile long national path for walkers – and this will be added to the Sitemorse index in due course.
What’s impressive is that all CCW sites have scored highly in the Sitemorse benchmarks within the central government index. The process of constant improvement, as far as the team is concerned, is a job that never ends. “There’s always work to do, betterment to be had, so we are always chipping away at it and honing the corners of the site.” Cameron told us.
Why use the Web Manager’s Toolkit rather than its competitors?
“I had been familiar with the Sitemorse product since my days working with local government and I know the product rather well. The quality has improved over the years, and the benchmarking data we get from it, married up to analytics and ‘human testing’, gives us what we need to keep the website working as well as possible. If anything the Sitemorse data seems to be even less ‘forgiving’ over the last twelve months or so, but that’s a good thing as it keeps us on our toes.” said Cameron.
“Sitemorse is a service which I have come to rely on and which I trust.” he added.
Another advantage of Sitemorse, as far as the CCW team are concerned, is the competitive aspect introduced by the benchmarking Indexes. According to Cameron, the ability to look at how other organisations perform is important to his team and acts as a useful catalyst, encouraging web managers to press forward with ongoing improvements. And ultimately, to the Welsh taxpayer who funds the organisation.
About the CCW
The Countryside Council for Wales is the Government's statutory advisor on sustaining natural beauty, wildlife and the opportunity for outdoor enjoyment in Wales and its inshore waters.
The organisation champions the environment and landscapes of Wales and its coastal waters as sources of natural and cultural riches, as a foundation for economic and social activity, and as a place for leisure and learning opportunities.
The CCW websites have usually scored highly on regular benchmarks of the central government sector by Sitemorse and have appeared in nine surveys since 2010. Newly-introduced microsites from the team have soared to the top of the survey table but the main CCW has not been far behind, and currently sits in second place in our survey.
For more than a decade, Sitemorse has been the world's only single solution for web content governance, monitoring, recording and benchmarking. Our software is used to test the sites of major organisations in a variety of sectors, (for example, FTSE All Share companies, and the UK Top 500 retail companies) to compile an index of who ‘does the web’ best.
We offer three levels of products, from our enterprise platform 'Governisation', a blend of governance and optimisation, to a suite of tools to help web editors and managers, as well as free in-browser tools that can be used by any web user to quickly ensure pages are error-free (our web managers toolkit). All our services are SaaS based, with no set-up or management and are designed to ensure that our hundreds of clients in major corporations, the financial sector, and central and local government have total confidence in their websites.
For further Information:
Cameron Edwards, Web Manager, Countryside Council for Wales +44 1248 387376 email@example.com
Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications, Sitemorse on +44 1525 375057, gpaddock@Sitemorse.com