The web project was a core part of the Surrey local authority’s Business Transformation Programme to overhaul its operational efficiency and effectiveness.

The Council’s goal was to create a web site of far higher quality and value to the community. Crucially, it wanted to increase the number of community transactions undertaken online from just three to well over 100. This meant ensuring the site was as clear and user-friendly as possible.

What we did

We began by reviewing the planned structure of the new site, what content was needed and how it should be organised in line with the council’s many functions.

We then sat down with managers in each department – from environment to parking, council tax, planning, leisure, housing and benefits – to understand what information they needed to convey. In many cases, we reviewed initial content their teams had drafted.

We worked to make this content much more comprehensible and user-friendly for the community and to ensure it flowed in a consistent style across the whole site.

We simplified and condensed the copy and turned jargon into everyday language. The information about council tax and benefits was particularly complex and in need of major simplification.

We also introduced a much more informal, direct tone of voice across the site. This meant, for example, writing in first and second person terms of ‘we’ and ‘you’ instead of the formal, third-person terms of ‘the local authority’ and ‘the resident’ which had been the Council’s previous style.

The result

We completed this intensive copywriting exercise on time to hit a challenging three-month deadline.

 

The new web site is now playing its part in helping Runnymede Borough Council to build stronger engagement with members of its community and to achieve greater efficiency by providing far more services online.

You can see Runnymede’s web site at www.runnymede.gov.uk.