Web technology for local councils

The Old Rectory

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

Tel: 0845 868 3975


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

Free-to-view national website that provides up-to-date roadwork locations and congestion information.

Posted: Wed, 03 Dec 2014 17:30 by Ray Smith

roadworks.org was re-launched on November 12th, 2014.

The redesign has aimed to give the website a mobile-friendly interface presenting live data on congestion, traffic incidents, closures, traffic restrictions and major public events provided by local council data sets and supplemented by other sources. It includes planned work by utility companies and provides a valuable resource to enable parish and town councils to have visibility of what's happening in their local area.

The platform is based upon Google Maps, implementing a self-service system for traffic notifications and is intended to be accessed both by the general public and highways service professionals.

The site is managed by transport information company Elgin. The service is hoped to save local governments millions of pounds, as the integration of national information into one source will lower costs.

Tags: News, Resource

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

New Knowledge Base Module added to our CALC product set.

Posted: Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:00 by Ray Smith

We have been working with the Hertfordshire Association of Parish and Town Councils for several months now. Shortly after going live Carina Helmn (County Officer) said "We chose 2commune because we were very impressed with the work they had done in Leicestershire. We now have a great looking product, delivered on time and at a very reasonable price. The site is straightforward to maintain and our members have found it simple to use with easy access to information".

Following a recent request from one of their member parishes, HAPTC commissioned us to develop a 'Knowledge Base' module. This knowledge base will only be available to member councils and will provide a valuable resource of expertise available within Hertfordshire councils. The idea is that councils can then access each others' specialisms on a peer to peer basis. This module is now part of our standard CALC offering.

Tags: UKLC, UK Local Councils, Websire for CALCs

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

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

A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our customers, past, present and future.

Posted: Mon, 23 Dec 2013 17:09 by Ray Smith

Picture of the 'Old Rectory' taken on my way out of the office this evening.

We would like to say a 'big thank you' to everyone who has helped to make this another great year for 2commune.

It's been an interesting journey…

Following the 'soft release' of our enhanced product set in May, a growing number of Parish and Town Councils across the UK are joining the community of local councils using UKLC technology and we now have three County Associations 'on board'.

The NN One project is progressing well and plans to roll out the 'Leicestershire Model' across the three tiers of local government in Northamptonshire, providing a joined up A-Z of services and real time planning application feeds on local council websites.

We have started a series of 'How local councils can be more effective online' workshops which have been well received with more planned for 2014.

Our offices are now closed until Thursday 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.

We look forward to working with you all next year and to welcoming new customers 'on board' UKLC.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from all at 2commune.

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

Spot On – Brilliant – A Vast Improvement on Our Old Website...

Posted: Mon, 02 Dec 2013 10:58 by Tina Britt

These are some of the comments received from Towcester Town Councillors when shown their new website this month.

2commune are very pleased to announce that Towcester Town Council chose to use our technology for their new website. Dianne Issacs, Town Clerk to Towcester Town Council said "when we were looking for a supplier, we felt 2commune were the best fit for us. Having successfully supplied web technologies to Parish Councils for the last ten years, we were confident that they understood the market. This was important for us as we wanted to work with a supplier that is in touch with what we do as a Council".

"Once we started working with 2commune they quickly put us at ease by guiding us every step of the way. They assisted us with moving our existing content off our old website and provided guidance on how best to do this. We enjoy working with them, their staff are very friendly and are always available to answer any queries we have. We look forward to continue working with them and I would strongly recommend 2commune to other councils considering a new website for their council".

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

LRALC Reflects 6 Months On

Posted: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 14:49 by Ray Smith

Jake Atkinson, Chief Officer LRALC said:

"We have been using the website for over 6 months now and are very pleased with its ease of use, flexibility, member benefits, and (because every penny counts to a County Association such as ourselves!) the return on investment it has provided.

Read the whole case study here.

Tags: UK Local Councils, LRALC