Come and work with us

An exciting opportunity has come up for us to recruit to the team. We are looking for a Public Information and Creative Services Manager.

The main purpose of the role will be lead the delivery and development our new approach to public information and access.

You can get a flavour of the type of work we are doing by checking out this site.

We are looking for someone who is proactive, collaborative and focused and who understands the challenges and opportunities around public information and access.

You could play a leading role in challenging our thinking, our approach and enabling us to deliver high quality public information for users so they can self help across a range of channels.… Read the rest

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Can I speak plainly?


We can speak plainly but, according to recent reports, those of us in central and local government rarely do. We communicate complex ideas to other people every day (the plot of Homeland for instance) so why do we struggle to tell the public what our services are and how to access them?

In the course of my work I’ve come across three main reasons.


1.    The Rules
The grammar you learn in your formative years often becomes the basis of your writing for the rest of your life. In many cases the rules you are taught become so much part of your writing style that you don’t even realise you’re following them; which makes them very tricky to unlearn.… Read the rest

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Update on Digital Content Strategy

It has been a while since I blogged on here and I wanted to share some progress around the digital content strategy.

So the following is a version of a recent update I gave internally using the 5 themes identified in the strategy as the basis for progress – this should give you a flavour of the work we have done and the progress made.

  1. Standards Driven
  2. User Driven
  3. Work with others
  4. Agile and Responsive
  5. Future proof

The following represents a high level summary of progress

Standards Driven – (a global experience language)

Summary Description:

Our web domain will be an ecosystem or network of solutions all governed by a set of rules (a global experience language, or GEL ) so they look, talk and behave like part of the core and are also searchable and indexed from a single (federated) search facility.… Read the rest

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Writing for the web

Up until a few months ago, when I started working on content for our new social care and health beta web pages, I thought that writing for the web was easy. Surely the techniques for writing good print copy would be the same for digital content?

The existing Devon County Council social care site has evolved over several years, with a confusing navigation and lots of unnecessary content aimed at staff rather than the public. Many pages are lacking in Plain English, with overly long sentences, too much jargon and excessive use of third-person narrative.

As I began writing for the beta site, I soon realised that my understanding of what makes good online copy was quite basic. With a limited knowledge of keywords and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right things to attract users to our pages and then keep them there. Continue reading

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Re:Cycle Devon

You know when there’s an area of your website that isn’t quite right and needs sorting out but for whatever reason you just don’t get round to doing anything about it? Continue reading

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Crisis communications and social media

As an organisation we’re pretty comfortable with managing our social media messages during a crisis but, what happens when we have to deal with some of the behaviour that can occur in the social channel? Continue reading

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Summer Update

It’s been just over a month since our last team update so there’s penty of stuff to catch up on. There’d be even more but it’s difficult to work with an ice cream in one hand and a refreshing cold drink (definitely non alcoholic) in the other, whilst sat on the beach – only kidding! Continue reading

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The last few weeks and then some

We seem to have lost our team mojo when it comes to blogging recently but that doesn’t mean we aren’t short of posts to write and in fact we have a number in draft and in shared google docs in the team. Continue reading

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School Communications an explanation

Part of my role in the team is to manage the schools communications, Carl asked me to write a post explaining what it is and essentially explain what I do when I’m not doing what the rest of the team are doing!!

Schools electronic communication to Devon local authority schools is a service offered by the council to communicate information to schools from services within the council and also if approved outside organisations and companies (although a charge is applied for this service), however we do not and can not make recommendations.

All information communicated directly to schools which have converted to academy status has to be approved by the Head of Education and Learning (Sue Clarke).                        … Read the rest

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Error 403 – Lessons Learned from Hosting the Elections

On Friday last week our new Democracy webpages were put to the test with the Local Election results being broadcast and reported live.

Unfortunately we experienced some downtime during the morning which clearly isn’t and wasn’t a good thing.

We want to share some of the lessons we learned based on a team conversation this morning.

Firstly lets focus on some of the positives, which are actually contributing factors to why it went down, but are worth celebrating at the same time.

The stats for Friday:

  • 42,668 visits
  • 255,281 page views
  • Elections Live Widget – 4,633 visits
  • Average time spent on site – 5 minutes 45 seconds
  • 6,066 visits from Mobile

For comparison our main corporate website stats for Friday were:

  • 19,884
  • 48,938 Page views

These stats are fantastic, but we didn’t anticipate this level of usage given that on an average day the main council website gets around 13,000 visits – so we had planned that we would “worst case” get twice this amount during the day which would have been great….However the critical factor for us, which is why the site went down was that the majority of the 42,000 visits (nearly 4 times the daily average) to the Election pages were during a 2 hour period starting from 10am.… Read the rest

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