Web technology for local councils

The Old Rectory

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

Tel: 0116 412 0034

Tags: Tip

Are you still using Windows 7?

Are you still using Windows 7?

Posted: Thu, 17 Jan 2019 18:00 by Ray Smith

Mainstream support for Windows 7 stopped four years ago, in January 2015. Since then users have continued to receive security updates and bug fixes, but no new features.

Security updates and bug fixes for Windows 7 will end on January 14th 2020 (just one year from now). After this time your computer will not be secure, yet around one-third of all personal computers are still running the near ten-year old operating system.

Microsoft's date for the end of support will also encourage software vendors to stop supporting Windows 7, which could mean that applications such as accounting systems and websites could also stop working, too.

If you haven't already upgraded to Windows 10 now is the time to do it!

Tags: Tip, News

Are your digital skills up to scratch?

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

Most modern websites make use of online forms, but how many of us test them to make sure that they are working?

Most modern websites make use of online forms, but how many of us test them to make sure that they are working?

Posted: Mon, 03 Feb 2014 08:00 by Ray Smith

Recently we were looking for a new firm of accountants so I did a Google search of accountants in our area. One looked particularly interesting so I completed an online form expressing interest in their services and waited for them to contact me. I waited and waited and waited... Several days after, I guessed that the form had not got through and rang them asking if they had received it - not a good customer experience.

Don't let this happen to your customers, protect your council's reputation by testing your online forms frequently to ensure that they work. There can be several reasons that a completed form does not get through, change of email address or spam filter settings to name but two.

Our content management system (CMS) includes a powerful form building tool to enable you to design and build sophisticated forms on your website. The output as well as being sent to you by email is also entered into a database that can easily be downloaded as a spreadsheet. This means that you will never lose a completed form and the results can be used to do further analysis.

Tags: Tip, UKLC, UK Local Councils, Websites for local councils

Talking documents!

Talking documents!

Posted: Tue, 26 Mar 2013 11:01 by Ray Smith

Did you know that the Adobe PDF reader is now able to read documents 'out loud'? Read Out Loud is a Text-to-Speech (TTS) tool that has been built into Adobe Reader since version 6.0.

Yet more reason to consider standardising on the PDF format for documents on your website. Try it, start Adobe Reader then open a PDF and Choose View > Read Out Loud

Tags: Tip, accessibilty, documents, PDF