Posted in Digital, Events

Digital Seminar

On Wednesday 25 February I hosted a Digital Seminar with Darren Caveney. I was representing LocalGov Digital and Darren was there from LG Comms.

To say I was nervous about the day was a complete understatement. I was petrified about speaking in front of so many people. Some I knew and some I didn’t. I don’t know what was worse. I knew I just had to get on with it though. And believe it or not, after I did my presentation with Phil Rumens the nerves disappeared and I could enjoy the day.

Here’s a doodle about everything I took away from the day. I found it extremely useful and can take some of the learning into my day job. I’m a Digital Officer at Gravesham Council.  Be great to know if you went what you got from it. Tweet me @KarenJeal

Digital Seminar Doodle

Posted in Digital

Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day

Today is Safer Internet Day!

With digital now taking centre stage in our lives and children’s lives it’s important not to forget that you need to stay safe when surfing the web.

My partner has a nine-year-old and using her tablet and phone is just part of her life. She seems to be on it all the time. So we are constantly drumming the message home. Over and over again. And so is her school. They have regular internet safety lessons and that is so pleasing to hear. When she comes home and is enthused about making an iMovie with her class mates about what it means to be safe online. Or that they tell her the dangers of using Snapchat and Instagram, it helps reinforce our messages to her. She knows not to  talk to people she doesn’t know. She’s smart but it doesn’t hurt to keep going on, like adults are supposed to.

I think we’ve gone on about it so much that she gets what we’re trying to say but it’s still so so important to keep talking and to keep repeating what we’re saying.

If you only do one thing today. Make it matter. Make sure you take a look at Safer Internet Day stuff online. It’s really useful, well I thought so anyway!

Posted in Digital, Events

Getting the most from Digital


This is definitely going to be worth taking a look at. You can register for the seminar via the LG Communications website.

And if you can’t make it but would still like to take part you can take a look at our virtual element that will be available on this blog on the day. We’ll be running a simultaneous ‘unconference’ here on this blog. Simply register the topic you’d like to pitch and get views about by emailing me we’ll set the pages up for each topic before the day to give a bit of background on what that subject will be about and what you’d like to gain from the conversations and then the comments will be open for people to start discussing, suggesting ideas and creating conversations. Hopefully simply enough. It is the first time we’ve done this though so it will be a digital experiment.

You can also get involved in the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #LGCommsDigi


Posted in Digital


Pinch Punch First of the Month. Happy February everyone! Let’s use February to celebrate everything to do with local gov websites and digital.

I’m Karen and I work at Gravesham Council as the Digital Officer and as part of our website project and also to aid my own learning we want to call on local gov digital people everywhere to find out what tip or tips you’d share with us and everyone else to help do digital in a local authority.

As we approach February we can’t think of a better way to do this than to using digital itself and we’ve called it #LocalGovWebFeb.

You might have some tips on doing the perfect navigation, is there a perfect nav for that matter? You might want to share user testing ideas you have or any programmes you use that others will benefit from knowing about. Icons – yes or no? What about content – anyone got any quick fire tips to get this right? Design tips, segmentation? Or if you have recently launched a new website what have you learnt that others can learn from too? The list goes on…

It’s a simple crowdsourced blog idea. We want to start and encourage the conversation and then share the learning.

You can get involved by commenting on this blog post or tweeting using the hashtag #LocalGovWebFeb and we’ll collate all the results in early March and share everyone’s tips, ideas and suggestions, plus there’ll be a doodle too – watch this space!

Posted in Digital

Pick of the Digital Blogs

Blogging isn’t new, but blogging in a local gov environment, for me, is relatively new. And even more so is blogging about digital in local gov.

We’re all trying to push people online, save money, tighten up our websites and streamline services as much as possible and having done a bit of research here are my best pick of the digital blogs around. In no particular order:

#1 – Gravesham – Digital Gravesham
I’m biased on this one because I set it up but it’s well worth a look, even in its early state. We’re documenting everything we’re doing from start to finish.

#2 – Shropshire – Project WIP
This is a fantastic example of bringing a human element to local government work. It not only is going through the work they’re doing but is adding details of the team and how they’re working together. It’s also worth noting that Shropshire is doing lots of new innovative work too. Trying out Whatsapp being just one awesome example.

#3 – Nottinghamshire – Digital First
This is a good blog that is aimed at achieving Digital First. They are sharing the work they do and want to gain feedback on that work.

#4 – Lambeth – Digital Lambeth
This blog, again, is a log of all the work that was done during the website redesign and is now being used to highlight other parts of the Digital Team’s work. The blog was previously called Made in Lambeth.

#5 – Devon – Re:work Devon
I don’t know which blog came first but this one in particular is one that I found first off all a few years ago and has been a really great insight into doing a blog of this kind well.

#6 – Camden – Camden’s Website Redesign Project
This blog is very detailed and packed full of info and resources. Like Project WIP this also goes into detail of team members which again, brings a very human element to the work their doing, rather than just being ‘The Council’.

#7 – Monmouthshire – Digital Monmouthshire
This one hasn’t been updated for a while but is still worth a little mention as Monmouthshire, in particular Jo Goodwin, are doing some really good things!

Posted in Digital

Accessible to all

In the lead up to Christmas I’m going to be doing a series of posts of thoughts and doodles. Sort of like a 12 posts of Christmas or a Christmas advent collection. So my first one is about accessibility. 

Too often we forget that not everyone has the same experience as us when using websites.

It might be something simple like they don’t have the same experience because they have a different phone and the website isn’t geared up to be mobile ready. Or they can’t see it properly because of the browser they are using, and the site you’ve built doesn’t work right on that browser.

It could be that someone who is blind, partially sighted or deaf is coming to the site and they’re unable to use it. Or it could even be as sinister as a user being colour blind and they are unable to differentiate between colours on the site.

All of these things are important for council websites, because residents will vary so much. The site is there to serve a very wide ranging community. So what things do we need to be thinking about to get to grips with accessibility.

Here’s my list and also some useful links that will help you get it spot on.

Content editors. You need to think about:

    • What you are writing and who your target audience is.
    • Don’t refer to top right, bottom left etc. If the site is responsive then the content blocks on the pages move round depending on how you look at it. Instead refer to the heading for that section.
    • Don’t use click here. This can be really frustrating for screen reader users who may tab through links.
    • Wherever possible try to make link text as similar as possible to the page you are linking to, for example don’t put link text ‘contact us’, if the page you are sending people to has a page title of ‘visit us’! The same with links to external websites. Make sure you write BBC website, not
    • It’s always good to write out all email addresses
    • Make headings as useful as possible, front loading the heading with the keyword wherever possible.
    • Screen readers search on terms, and would more likely be searching for the term ‘contact’ rather than ‘getting’.
    • Make sure you put alt text on images where needed. If they don’t need alt text because they are purely decoration, they will still need a null alt text.
    • Make sure your images are accessible. In other words don’t use a poster that has been shrunk to size and the wording is no longer legible.

Accessibility things that are really super important:

    • You should offer a text resizing option and don’t just rely on the browser doing this job.
    • High contrast should also be offered. Many partially sighted people will really rely on this to see your content.
    • Think about listening to web content, using things like browsealoud.
    • Translation options should be made available by embedding Google translate somewhere on the site, usually the header or footer.
    • What colours are you using? These must pass contrast tests.
    • Is there a site map?

Browsers and operating systems:

  • If you want your site responsive then do testing on phones and tablets. Particularly
    in IE 8, 9, 10, 11 Safari, Firefox and Chrome.
  • You should also make a massive effort to test content and functionality on smartphones and tablets.
    • On an iPhone and iPad/mini iPad
    • On an Android phone and tablet
    • On a Windows Phone and Tablet.

And here are my useful links:

#1 – this one is called Wave and it’s a Web Evaluation Tool. You just put your web address in and it will tell you how many accessibility errors there are in your site.

#2 – this one is good for checking how good your content is and how easy it is to understand. It’s called Online Utility. 

#3 – here are the full Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. It’s a pretty long but if you’re in doubt then take a look at this.

#4 – this one is really good for colours. Simply pop your colours into the Web Aim Colour Contrast Checker and it will tell you how compliant, if at all, your site is.

#5 – Courtesy of the University of Nottingham this is a SMOG calculator. It’s pretty good. You just pop your text in and it’ll give you a score. Aim for a score of about 16 and you should be OK.

#6 – And my final pick is the Website Usability Dashboard this one has been developed by the very talented Simon Gray (@simonjgray). It lists lots of councils and it allows you to run tests on your own and others’ sites and then gives you an average score.
Got any other accessibility tips? Tweet my @karenjeal

Posted in Digital

Keep it brief


So it’s called a Project Brief, but people sometimes forget to do just that… keep it brief but with as much detail as possible to prevent too many further questions. Here’s a little guide to things you need to think about when doing your next website project brief.

What’s the project about?
What are your goals and priorities – what’s the website going to achieve?
What is your current situation when it comes to web presence – what have you already got? Try and explain what CMS/platforms you already use and have to give a bit of context.
Who is your audience? How will they use the site?
Include wireframes and what functions you want. Try and give as much information about branding, colours, fonts, do you need interactive maps, do you need a search function built in. Images – will you provide them or will you need stock ones. Will you require advertising on the site? Try and give an idea on the navigation you’re looking for. Provide some content with it if you can. Think about social media and how that is incorporated into the site.
Make the site accessible and responsive as standard. Most people are using sites on their mobiles and tablets nowadays.
Who is hosting the site? What do you want the domain name to be?
When it comes to the quote – make sure you ask for it to be broken down into different elements so that if it comes in over budget you can pick and mix what you want. Find out if there is any annual ongoing costs and find out what the daily rate is if the deadline is missed.
Make sure you say what you’re deadline is and keep at it.