Scottish Borders Council

"Scottish Borders Council"

Scottish Borders Council

Scottish Borders Council

Challenge: To provide a user friendly website which would appeal to Scottish Border residents and encourage site population through a team of Editors. All within a Council lacking in any previous web culture and in the absence of staff buy-in



I was the sole Website Manager for a 3,500 HTML information based website providing 12 months cover for the established holder on maternity leave.

The website suffered from a lack of priority and input from Council staff and despite the high profile of the Council it failed to generate the expected traffic. A clear issue of relevance to both Stakeholders.

The strategy – increase the level of input from Council staff through a programme of training making the site more relevant to the target audience and support this with a digital campaign which drove traffic to a more engaged browser.

First, I addressed the internal culture by promoting a Web Consultation Group consisting of senior Departmental managers. This diverse group, from Planning and Works Department to Finance, Social Work to Business Development, and Payments to Education and Lifelong learning was chaired my myself as Website Manager. This forum delivered new direction and impetus enabling agreement on the communication of key issues affecting Borders residents. By creating new custodians and involving all Stakeholders these new recruits drove the agreed initiatives within their relevant departments. This lead to a successful transformation and as the benefits to each area became more evident it improved the value of web content.

“We felt the site is extremely clear, well written and accessible. If only similar sites could be as good”. – Ben Beer of the Plain English Campaign

The second stage of the strategy was to increase quality output at staff level. I presented training sessions creating a pool of new dedicated staff in the use of our CMS percussion Rythmyx, while giving refresher courses to those with falling interest levels. My training also included SEO and “writing for the web” adopting the inverted pyramid technique. This doubled the number of Editors from 35 to 70, producing excellent results which culminated in the Council winning the Plain English web Award in 2005 – 9 months into my tenure. See the Councils website announcement.

Developing website functionality was key to progress

With improved content and a more stimulated environment I migrated 15 Council sites into the core structure and project managed the introduction of online payments such as Council Tax for local residents. I further proposed the introduction of an electronic shop to sell Council services from Retail outlets, but regretfully this was an initiative which the Council was not at the mindset to adopt. Had it done so it would have been the first of its kind in UK Local Government.

The final chapter included site review through Clicktracks analytics and site promotion using both organic and paid search.

I left the Council with a reference that I had performed “above expectation” having made a significant contribution towards changing attitudes to a more positive web culture. By taking the site to a new level it was gratifying to be recognised both within and out with the Council. A reasonable legacy.

To review other examples of my business strategies follow the links to Standard Life, Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre, Stoneridge Electronics and VELUX.

View my CV or this.

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0785 234 9011

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