Web technology for local councils

The Old Rectory

Contact: 2commune Limited
The Old Rectory, Main Street
Glenfield, Leicestershire

Tel: 0845 868 3975

Tags: Parish Councils

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UKLC User Conference 2017

Posted: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:15 by Ray Smith

This year's UKLC User Group Conference was held at the King Power Stadium in Leicester on Wednesday, March 22nd.

The theme of the conference was 'Simplify, Standardise and Share'. Sessions were varied and included best practice, case studies and the use of social media. UKLC users were updated on new functionality and features. Delegates were given an opportunity to help shape the future of the product by assisting us to prioritise future developments from our 'wish list'. UKLC users will shortly be receiving a 'My Notice' which will include handouts and the results of the vote.

There were plenty of opportunities for networking including round table discussions. The added bonus this year, was a directors box being freely available throughout the day for delegates to view the pitch which proved to be a hit!

Roger Harrington - Whittlebury Parish Council said: "I thought the whole day was excellent and couldn't have been bettered. The presentations were top-notch, helpful and informative and your encouragement of audience participation right from the off was a very important part of the conference's success. There was a spectrum of competencies among the users from the new recruits like us to the very experienced, and you skilfully catered for all abilities. Of course, the networking is always such a useful part of such meetings and there was plenty of opportunity for that at coffee, lunch and tea.

The catering was of a very high standard and I couldn't fault the food and beverages. So, overall, 100% brilliant and I would encourage any UKLC website user to seriously consider attendance at future conferences which, personally, I hope will be annually."

Thank you to all that attended.

Tags: UKLC, UK Local Councils, Parish Councils, Town Councils, Websites for local councils, Parish Council Websites

What a Difference a Year Makes, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Posted: Tue, 20 Dec 2016 18:00 by Ray Smith

This time last year we had just completed our tender for the contract to continue to supply local council websites in Leicestershire & Rutland. We were tentatively waiting to hear how we had got on. It wasn't until February 2016 that we finally heard that we'd won the contract. We're delighted to say that we now have well over 100 Leicestershire & Rutland parishes back 'on-board'. Thank you all so much for staying with us.

This year we've continued to welcome many new, parish and town councils to the UKLC family. A considerable proportion of these have been 'smaller councils' most having received transparency funding to cover the cost of their sites.

Norfolk Association of Local Councils joined the growing number of CALCs using UKLC. It was great to meet them and a large number of member councils at their November conference.

Our 'Digital by Default' roadshow continues to truck on with the most recent one being held at the Suffolk Association's office only a few weeks ago.

We have lot's of exciting things in the pipeline for 2017 which already promises to be another fantastic year. The next UKLC Conference will be on March 22nd 2017, we hope to see you all there. If you've not received your invite yet then please contact us.

Our office will close at 5:00pm on Thursday, December 22nd and reopen on Tuesday, January 3rd 2017. Should you need any assistance during this period, please raise a technical support ticket or leave a message on the office answer machine and we will respond as soon as possible.

With the X Factor, Strictly and Apprentice finals over we've still got the Dr Who Christmas special to look forward to on TV. And then it's New Year!

A massive 'Thank You' to all of our customers old and new.
We wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Here's to a great 2017!

Best Wishes,
From us all at 2commune

Tags: Websites for local councils, Parish Councils, Town Councils, Websites for parish and town councils, UKLC, UK Local Councils, Christmas

Writing For The Web

Posted: Wed, 21 Sep 2016 11:55 by Ray Smith

A recent study has identified that 82% of local government websites (district & county councils) do not meet target readability standards.

Long sentences are common and often contain more than 25 words.

Do you use plain English on your website?

This article contains more information about the study along with links to some useful resources.

People read differently on the web than they do on paper. This means that the best approach when writing for the web is different from writing for print.

Tags: Websites for local councils, Resource, Parish Councils, Town Councils

2commune wins Leicestershire Framework Contract for a further 4 years.

Posted: Wed, 24 Feb 2016 09:00 by Ray Smith

We have been working with Parish and Town councils in Leicestershire and Rutland for well over 10 years now and are delighted to announce that we have been awarded the new framework contract by Leicestershire County Council.

This sole supplier framework runs for 4 years and replaces the one previously held by 2commune which was established in 2013. Parish and Town Council's procuring websites under the framework benefit from a guaranteed fixed cost over the lifetime of the contract which has been reviewed by the County Council's legal department.

The contract was signed on February 16th 2016 and lasts until February 15th 2020.

Thomas Barker (Policy & Assurance Manager at Leicesteshire County Council) said: "We are pleased to announce that 2commune have won the contract for the new framework. Their bid offered the best value based on cost and quality over the life of the framework, as well as a product specifically designed for parish councils".

Councils in Leicestershire and Rutland wishing to find out more about the contract should contact us direct.

Tags: UKLC, UK Local Councils, Websites for local councils, Leicestershire, Parish Councils, Town Councils, Websites for parish and town councils

UKLC User Group Event hosted by East Northamptonshire Council on Wednesday, February 18th. 2015.

Posted: Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:30 by Ray Smith

This year's UKLC User Group Event was well attended with members travelling from as far afield as Yorkshire and Kent. The meeting was held in the council chamber at East Northamptonshire Council in Thrapston and was supported by the Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils.

Chris Pilkington from Yorkshire Local Councils Associations gave an illuminating presentation on the new local council award scheme and transparency code for smaller councils. Councils were encouraged to contact their local association for further details.

Chris's presentation set the scene for the rest of the day and was followed by a 'digital by default' crash course. Best practice case studies were used to demonstrate how councils have become more efficient and effective by exploiting the power of UKLC (UK Local Councils) web technology. Themes included: 'paperless councillors', 'online consultations' and 'avoidable contact'.

Eddie Plume from Buntingford Town Council gave a thought provoking presentation on 'Writing for the Web' and concluded that "verbiage is garbage".

Delegates then enjoyed a networking lunch.

In the afternoon UKLC users were updated on new functionality and features which included the launch of new designs and mobile optimised templates. Delegates were then given an opportunity to help shape the future of the product by assisting us to prioritise future developments from our 'wish list'. We will shortly be sending a 'My Notice' to all users summarising decisions made.

Richard Bartley from Wye With Hinxhill Parish Council said: "The 2commune event was insightful, and hearing from established users from different regions added a fresh perspective. I particularly like the opportunity to be part of the product development process, and join a community of users".

Tags: UKLC, UK Local Councils, Websites for local councils, Parish Councils, Town Councils

Season's Greetings and a BIG Thank You to all of our customers for another great year!

Posted: Tue, 23 Dec 2014 17:00 by Tina Britt

Picture of the Christmas lights in Leicester's town hall square, taken before an evening's celebrations on the town.

With Christmas upon us and 2015 just around the corner, we would like to thank all of our customers for making this another great year for 2commune.

Our customer base now stretches from Yorkshire to Kent. Not bad when you think we only made UKLC available outside of Leicestershire and Rutland just over a year ago. UKLC is rapidly becoming the 'industry standard' for parish and town council websites.

We are very pleased that Leicestershire County Council has extended the contract to make the older version (previously known as Leicestershire Parish Councils) available until September 2016. We would like to assure councils that we will keep that version going after that time if they wish to continue to use it. However, many of the Leicestershire and Rutland parish councils have now upgraded to the new version of UKLC with it's much improved functionality and we would encourage others to do the same.

The 'roll out of the Leicestershire Model' is picking up momentum and we are very pleased that the Derbyshire Association of Local Councils (DALC) has joined the family of Associations using our products. Since the launch of the Connecting Derbyshire project, both they and their members are already starting to enjoy the wider benefits that our technology delivers.

Looking ahead, 2015 promises to be an exciting and challenging year. The new Local Council Award Scheme will replace the old Quality Council award placing a much greater emphasis on the quality of parish and town council websites.

Hundreds of parish councils have now attended our 'How local councils can be more effective on-line workshops' and we already have a series planned for next year.

The next User Group Event will be held in Northamptonshire on February 18th. We have been busy adding new functionality to the product range and will be launching some exciting new features and design options at the event. You should all have received your invites by now and we look forward to seeing you there.

Our offices are now closed until Friday 2nd January 2014. Should you need any assistance during this period, please raise a technical support ticket or leave a message on the office answer machine and we will respond as soon as possible.

That just leaves me to wish you a Very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from all at 2commune. We look forward to working with you all next year and to welcoming many more new customers 'on board' UKLC.

Tags: Christmas, UK Local Councils, UKLC, Websites for local councils, Parish Councils, Town Councils

How important is mobile to your website strategy?

Posted: Fri, 12 Dec 2014 04:00 by Ray Smith

If you are in any doubt about how important mobile devices are to your website strategy take a look at this.

Whilst all of our current templates are mobile and tablet friendly, we are working on an exciting set of new mobile 'optimised' templates. They are currently in beta and will be launched next year.

These templates will work with our customer's existing sites and will require no changes to the content. Once this new feature is 'switched on' your site will automatically change to provide an optimised view of the content on any device. The mobile view has been designed to work on slower speed 3G devices to improve the viewers experience when WiFi is not available. There will also be a link at the bottom of your site to switch between mobile and desktop view. This gives your customers the ability to choose their preferred way of viewing your site on any particular device.

Have a look at Old Bolsover Town Council's website for a 'sneak preview'. Don't forget to look at it on a mobile and try the link at the bottom of the site to switch between views. Please contact us if you spot any problems or have any thoughts on how the user interface can be improved.

We will be launching the mobile templates at our UKLC user group meeting on February 18th 2015. Watch this space for further details.

Tags: UKLC, Parish Councils, Town Councils, Strategy, UK Local Councils

Derbyshire Association Of Local Councils (DALC) are now live on UKLC.

Posted: Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:00 by Ray Smith

The new DALC website went live at the end of August 2014. The picture shows Sarita Presland, DALC's Chief Officer (on the left) discussing some of the website's features with Tina Britt (2commune's Managing Director).

Sarita said "We launched our new website very quickly and easily with masses of help and support from the 2commune team. We are a small organisation of only two staff who, whilst used to using IT systems are in no way experts. 2commune helped us every step of the way - identifying our needs, and working closely with us so that we have achieved a truly comprehensive user-friendly website in a very short time. The site is now fully live and for our member councils the change has been seamless, all comments have been extremely positive. 2commune are specialists in our sector and so understand our market well, we would definitely recommend them to any councils that are considering a new website."

2commune's CALC product set has been designed and built by CALCs for CALCs, launched in May 2013, a summary of the functionality is detailed below:

Uses UKLC Content Management System with its attention grabbing slideshow, ticker messages and full social media integration. Generate member surveys with an easy to use form builder, results are stored in a database for further analysis.

Document Management System - cloud based 'electronic filing cabinet', documents can be marked public, restricted or private with version control, tagging enables easy cataloguing with powerful search.

CRM - customer relationship management system, track and record contacts with members and other organisations. Member contact details available by 'real time' feed to partners and national database.

Training & Event Management System - manage course and event information with calendar and online booking.

Member Enquiry Management System - powerful ticket system, records and tracks member enquiries. Queries can be filtered by owner, organisation, district, category and status.

Knowledge Base - build up a valuable resource of expertise available within your member councils enabling them to access each others' specialisms on a peer to peer basis.

Tags: UKLC, UK Local Councils, Website Launch, Derbyshire, Websites for local councils, Parish Councils, Town Councils

Are your digital skills up to scratch?

Posted: Fri, 12 Sep 2014 18:00 by Ray Smith

As more and more local councils make use of social media, we thought that it might be useful to consider what skills are required in your organisation to enable you to exploit these 'digital communication channels'. Twitter is increasingly being used by local councils with some also starting to use Facebook.

In our experience, there is still some scepticism surrounding use of social media within parish and town councils. There is no doubt that the use of social media will increase 'depth and breadth of reach' into your communities and allow you to engage with a wider audience.

It's becoming more important that you have staff with digital skills, here're some useful links to get you started:

University of Leicester: this content has been written to help staff in the university understand how to use social media in their organisation but is equally relevant to parish and town councils. In addition to the links below you will find lots of other useful resources on this site.
Social media communications - guidance and best practice
Practical Twitter tips for beginners
Setting up a Facebook account

Anthony Carpen has produced some useful social media resources including these videos:
Introduction to Twitter
Introduction to Facebook

Once you have set up your Twitter and Facebook accounts you will need to ensure that you update them frequently in order to keep your followers interested. 'Link back' to your website, ideally posts should be brief 'titbits' to entice the reader back to the full information on your website. This draws customers back to your site where they can find lots of other useful information about your organisation and give you an opportunity to further engage with them. For example, encourage them to complete an online consultation form or become a councillor (if you have a vacancy).

Our website technology UKLC (UK Local Councils) allows you to become more efficient and effective by automating the publishing of content to your digital channels. This allows you to set up a campaign by entering several post dated news items on your site. These news items can't be seen until they hit the publish date when they become visible and at the same time the content is automatically published on Twitter and Facebook. This means that you no longer need to go to each channel to add content and that your communication is automatically synchronized across all channels, driven from news items added to your website.

And finally, here's a thought provoking article about the use of social media in higher tier local authorities.

Tags: UKLC, UK Local Councils, Parish Councils, Town Councils, Tip, Social Media, Twitter, Facebook

Improve your online presence and become more effective: HOW? Become 'Digital by Default'!

Posted: Tue, 11 Feb 2014 12:53 by Ray Smith

Central government has set out its 'digital by default' strategy which outlines; how making everyday transactions with public services will be easier and cheaper online. Government figures estimate that moving services online can save around £1.2bn by 2015.

Find out what 'digital by default' really means and how YOUR council can become more efficient and effective. How? Attend one of our 'digital by default' workshops.

The next workshop will be held at the Northants CALC offices in Litchborough on March 12th, 2014. For more information and to book your place visit their website.

Attendees will qualify for a £100 discount if they later purchase a UK Local Councils (UKLC) website.

Councils outside of Northamptonshire are welcome to attend.

If you can't make this workshop and would like to find out how your council can become 'digital by default' then please contact us.

Tags: UKLC, UK Local Councils, Parish Councils, Town Councils

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