Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Digital Greenwich - Website, Suggestions for improvement

As promised in the previous post on Digital Greenwich, I did a kind-of research on the websites of the other 33 Councils of London.What I got in my research is that the website's content is similar to all boroughs, so it's all about the display of the information. Here is a list of ideas I found in my research and I would recommend to the Greenwich's website to use:

>> List of Favourites  I saw that in many websites as in http://www.camden.gov.uk/ and it is really useful since it automatically adapts to the visitors' demand, displaying the services with the highest possibility the visitor to look for them.

>> Find your Nearest  A control in which the user enters the place he or she is interested in (ex. Parks, Libraries, Recycling Sites) along with his or her postal code. Though it's a very useful feature, I saw it only in a few websites; one of them is http://www.brent.gov.uk/

>> Design  A crucial factor for every successful website is to have a pleasing and easy-to-use interface. Many councils have done a good job on this area with websites such as http://www.hackney.gov.uk/ and http://www.islington.gov.uk/. There isn't something super special in these sites, but this minimalistic, aesthetically correct and practical interface.

>> Visual Categorization  At Sutton's website the most common buttons and links are grouped into boxes, something I think it's really useful, as it helps the user to find quickly what he or she is looking for. The use of icons also helps in this direction.

>> Search  There isn't a quicker and easier way to find what we want in a website than an effective Search. The website of Westminster makes the most out of it having an extra large search box shown when the user visits westiminster.gov.uk. There is also a thoughtful categorization so the user is able to either search for services, or maps, or payments etc.

>> Feedback  In my research I met 2 types of request for feedback. The first is the usual story with the screen going dark and then a little window showing "Please take our survey" in which I instinctively click "No." because I want to read something behind the grey shade. The second was a very cute one which looks like that:



The feedback it provides is not much at all, but it's enough to get a general sense if the website's visitors are satisfied and the level of satisfaction. Also, it definitely has more chances for the users to click on it, than the first one, as it is sweet, straight-forward and asks for only one click!


Surplus features

Social Networking In many websites (as in http://www.lbhf.gov.uk/) I saw a social networking corner with "follow us on twitter" "digg us" and all, but in Greenwich's case where the percentage of the internet users are lower than 50% I think it wouldn't make a difference.

Ajax The borough of Redbridge gives in its website, http://www.redbridge.gov.uk/, membership along with the highest level of customization possible to its users. Hm =/ I don't know if it makes sense because firstly I don't like the procedure of creating another acount, but if it's my borough.. and I visit its website often.. maybe it would be nice everything to be in the place i want.. as in iGoogle?! Nada, I wouldn't buy it.

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