PSF Web Workshop review

On Wednesday I spent the day in Birmingham with a great bunch of people at the Public Sector Forums (external link) Web Workshop. Personally I had a very good day, and the feedback forms from the event suggest that almost all of the delegates did too. The few gripes about the time-keeping and the catering were well-founded, so we'll learn our lessons should we do something similar in the future.

I definitely shared the frustration about not being able to do the Information Architecture session full justice - it was planned to be the most interactive session, and together with the session on web strategies was one many people had expressed an interest in before the event. In the end time was against us and I had to rattle through it far too quickly. At least we had a bit of fun with the card sorting exercise.

We had a great presentation about Search Engine Optimisation and how it relates to government from Teddie Cowell of Neutralize (external link) and Search Engine War (external link), which I found fascinating. It's already had repercussions on DirectGov (external link), where less than 2 days later the previously obfuscated outbound links to local government sites are now real links, which means Google will love us more than they already do. Definitely a result.

And Jack Pickard (external link) helped me out during the QA session with an excellent demonstration of some of the tests we should all be performing regularly using nothing more than a decent browser and the Web Developer Toolbar.

Most of the delegates were from local government, with a few bods coming from the private sector and other government agencies like Transport for London (external link). In my experience, when I've been a delegate at this type of event, the networking with and contributions from colleagues in other authorities are just as useful as anything the speakers have to say, and I suspect this one was no different. We're still not very good in local government at sharing best practice, experiences or horror stories, even in this internet age, and often it's not until we get in company that we start to open up. The contributions from the floor were top notch, even with the south-west seeming to dominate at times. You know who you all are. ;-)

The wiki (external link) that was setup for the event might help a bit. It will probably go one of two ways - either folk will use it, contribute to it and it will grow into a useful resource, or they will come, take what they need and never darken its door again. Whatever happens I'll continue maintaining the links pages on the wiki, and adding anything interesting or new I come across (like clickdensity (external link), but I'll post about that at the weekend).

If you were at the event there will be an email winging its way to you soon with the wiki access details. If you weren't there, and you think you might be interested in contributing to a wiki loosely focussed (is that possible?) on government web stuff, drop me a note and I'll let you in.

Comments

Hi Dan

Thank you for an excellent workshop in Brum on Wednesday. You're absolutely right that we're not good at sharing our stories in the public sector, although I feel that's probably more due to the constant fire-fighting and lack of time & resources than any reluctance to be community minded!

That's why events like Wednesday's are so important because we all make the time to talk. Although, sorry if I talked too much!

I've already had a look at the wiki and I'll make some time to write some stuff about corporate web governance if you feel it'd be useful, as we seem to have a workable model!

Again, thanks to you, Jack, Teddie and Ian for making it all possible on Wednesday.

James

Posted by: James Corrigan at January 27, 2007 10:58 PM

James, thanks for your kind words. You didn't talk too much, in fact I suspect the only attendee that accusation could be levelled at is me!

It would be great if you could take the time to contribute to the wiki, starting with your web governance stuff. It's at the foetal stage, but we'll give it a shot and see if develops into something useful.

Posted by: Dan at January 29, 2007 6:37 PM

Hi Dan

I just wanted to add my thanks for the workshop, I'm sure we all learnt a trick or two.

It was useful as well to sit down and talk to others in the same boat, share ideas, methods, have moans etc.

Looking forward to the next one!

Posted by: Maf at January 30, 2007 3:17 PM

Hi Dan,

I'm the Web Manager for a housing association, so almost public sector...

Any chance of getting access to your wiki please?

Posted by: Lee McIvor at February 1, 2007 2:49 PM

@Maf: that's good to hear, thank you. We're discussing what to do next, it seems there is an appetite for more of these types of get-togethers.

@Lee: I've emailed you with access details, you're more than welcome to join us.

Posted by: Dan at February 1, 2007 5:47 PM

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