This afternoon Parliament published the review MySociety produced about the Parliament online services. It is an interesting document,not least because for a large percentage of it you could spend a couple of minutes with ‘find and replace’ and it could be talking about ONS – in places it is so on point for us that it is a bit unnerving!
The report is pretty easy reading and it limits its recommendations to two (in fact it could be argued there is really only one!)
– Merge the existing IT & web teams to create one over-arching digital team. I think there is an expectation that the web side of this team would have to grow in order to respond to demands and meet expectations.
– Recruit a senior digital leader to run the team and be publicly responsible for improvements (they talk about a Head of Digital but I think it would be helpful to think of this as a Chief Digital Officer post – as in the civil service everyone is a Head of something – even me!)
There are also major usability faults identified which apparently should be simple to fix (if only) and considerable complaints about search. This is again somewhat dismissed as something that should be easy to sort. Both these issues are incredibly familiar – there are a multitude of UI and usability issues all over our site that on the surface appear to be straightforward to fix – but nothing is! I imagine Parliament are in a not dissimilar situation. The less said about our search the better I think!
There is one quote in the report that particularly chimes with my experience over the last nine months;
..staff deserve praise simply for keeping the website online and the core data mostly up to date.
It is nice to see the recommendations were accepted by the ‘powers that be’ so change is certainly incoming and I’ll be watching closely how it pans out. I think there are a lot of lessons we will be able to learn from where Parliament goes next with this.