Making the PAS website better

I gave a presentation to the PAS team yesterday as part of one of our regular super exciting (everyone say “procurement” after me!) team meetings.  Just wanted to share with the world at large what we’re learning and give a shout out to people who’d like to give us some more feedback and help us make things better.

The monthly email updates

We send these out on the second-to-last wednesday of each month.  Thanks to the handy Lyris software we can track how many people open the newsletter and click on the various bits in it.  This gives us some really useful feedback on what people are interested in/hungry for and helps us understand what we should be putting our energy towards or confirms that we’re on the right track.


This is pretty much on a par for our recent email updates and generally above the average for this kind of contact. 



With a whole bunch of folk freaked out about the changes to PD it wasn’t really a massive surprise that the changes to the GPDO topped the last newsletter.  Was really good to see a healthy amount of interest in the good work being done at Plymouth on linking together engagement and evidence gathering.  We’ve got more of these shorter case studies planned.  Next in line is Redcar & Cleveland (Regeneration & SPDs) and Chelmsford (Developer Contributions).  We’d like to keep these rolling and would especially like to see examples beyond the ‘usual suspects’ – so if you’re up to something good – get in touch:

Some of you have probably been contacted by the good folks at Databuild.  They do a quarterly impact assessment for us.  This involves them ringing people up, asking a bunch of questions and then giving us a report that lets us know if we are doing any good -making a difference –  that kind of thing.  It includes some really useful feedback on the website that the stats don’t tell us.  For example they make us feel good about our newsletter with this kind of info:


These numbers are for the most part up from the previous quarter with the useful-ness dipping from 95 to 93 percent.  Still, really good to know people like it, use it and find it useful. This is also born out by the stats for the website itself where there is a good spike in the usage immediately following each update. We would like to see more people getting the newsletter.  If you’re reading this and don’t get it, you can sign up via our website.

Of course I couldn’t get through a meeting without pricking a hole in our balloon-like swelling heads, so it was time for some BAD NEWS.
<divAs part of our report from Databuild we got the following feedback:

  • 86% agreed that the site’s content was relevant to them (last four Q average 96%)
  • 72% agreed that the site is easy to navigate (last four Q average 88%)
  • 84% agreed that the information on the site was of a good quality (last four Q average 93%)

Those first numbers don’t sound too alarming, but in comparison to last quarter its all going DOWN DOWN DOWN. 

The comments databuild collect help us understand the downturn (credit content crunch?) a bit:

“As the website has grown it has become less structured, it is getting too big and over complicated. It needs to be made simpler”

“Navigation – pointing to where updates have happened on the website”

“Make it easier to use, put links down left or right hand side, highlight key phrases and have clearer listings. Maybe put a schedule of upcoming events on the home page”

Doing something about it

Some of these are easy for us to fix.  We’ve already updated the relevant homepages to include links to popular/regularly accessed items eg/ Plan Making Manual, LDF support, development management… and we’ve included a listing of upcoming events.

These are only first steps.  There is a lurking project here to move the site onto the shiny new platform that supports the IDeA website.  Part of that process involves a good hard think about how we organise our content.  If you’ve got any ideas or would like to get involved in that – let us know:

Download the presentation slides (PDF): oct-webstats-2008-v2-jc