A new home for BIS
Okay, another of my periodic attempts to shake this blog out of its slumber with a promise of a couple of finely crafted but exquisitely short entries per week.
The main reason for not having posted much last month is simply the amount of work: it’s a busy time at the moment, with the usual pressure of end-of-year supplemented this year by an unusual number of high profile changes in government organisations shutting down, setting up or reconfiguring, such as the old Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) becoming QCDA and Ofqual on April 1. Plus of course there’s the small matter of the imminent general election to factor in to everything.
So it seemed appropriate to start this blog reboot with a story in that vein – the launch of the new, integrated site of the Department of Business, Innovation of Skills. For the last few months, the BIS website has been a small front-end stop-gap site trying valiantly to pull together the legacy websites of the old BERR and DIUS departments from which it was created last October. But today sees the soft launch of the real deal – a properly integrated website at last.
What’s particularly notable is the amount of “behind the scenes” information that BIS are making available behind this, in an effort to be genuinely transparent and open about the whole project. There’s Neil Williams’ blog post about the launch (and while you’re there, check out his posts on the perfect Fantasy CMS for government and the perfect page, the former partly inspired by a post by David Pullinger on the COI Digigov blog).
Then there’s Steph Gray’s quick round up over on his Helpful Technology blog (and it’s worth catching up on his earlier post on WordPress and consultations from February, too) together with Simon Dickson’s lament for the passing of the interim site built at speed in WordPress and which did a great job filling in. As Simon points out, that experience will be in valuable in future; indeed, one of my clients has already been using a very similar approach to bridge a gap between intranet systems.
Perhaps the best thing about the BIS relaunch though is the amount of behind-the-web-scenes information that BIS are making available on the site itself – the results of user insight research, information on set-up and running costs and usage of the site, not to mention direct access to the website traffic data via Google Analytics’ API. There’s even a community-powered support site for reporting any problems you might find and for suggesting improvements.
Oh, and the site built on top of this looks pretty nice at the end of it, too!