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9 Features to get your Council Website Live Quickly

By Neil Lawrence
2023-05-10 13:41:54
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How Digital Place can help to get you started with a new website

At Placecube we’ve over 20 years of experience in working with public sector clients, including local authorities and the communities they serve.  We are passionate about what this sector requires and as such we intrinsically understand what councils need from their website Content Management System (CMS).

In this blog, Neil Lawrence, Product Owner, Placecube highlights 9 top features of our Digital Place for Local Public Services product for councils to get their website live quickly.  

When you make the jump to a new CMS it can feel pretty daunting, with so many choices to make like content rewrites, reviewing information architecture, working out hosting, designing customer journeys - the last thing you need is another set of problems to deal with.

Luckily the Digital Place Web CMS has been put together with councils, built on user research, best practice and using the power of Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP). With a range of use cases under our belt, such as joint councils needing to share content, launching a site on a phased basis or ‘big bang’, automated and manual content migration, we’re in a good place to understand what customers need most when getting started.

Here’s Nine Top features from Digital Place that will get your Council website started quickly…

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1. Tried and Tested Design Theme

The Digital Place default theme is based on tried and tested user research. It is a proven starting point for any new site to get you going quickly, by reusing other councils’ design and testing. It is accessible, being Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA compliant, responsive and great to look at. This is important to comply with legislation, but more importantly to provide a product that is available to all users.

It can be quickly customised by you, and comes with a set of features and templates that will work for you from day one to create an easy to use, attractive experience for your users. 


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2. Ready-to-go Content Structures

The first of the Digital Place templates is our Category Page. This comes pre-built with a number of fragments and widgets from the Digital Place library that will create a service landing page in minutes. 

Using our Services categories, Category pages can be self-maintaining when web content changes due to the dynamic asset publishers and menu displays in use. Pages also have access to a wide range of fragments and widgets that help to create varied and functional content to meet your needs.

We also have a range of web content types within Digital Place that mean you don’t need to start from scratch. As well as our standard Articles, there are Guides to pull multi-step processes together for easier reading, Blog and News. We also have a PDF-alternative content type, called Webdocs, that means you can provide accessible alternatives to displaying long-form content.


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3. Use Best Practice from GOV.UK 

GOV.UK leads the way in terms of its design system; the designs and components it includes have been user tested thoroughly and are always under review.

Digital Place incorporates the GOV.UK Frontend Toolkit, and we have a range of components and styles within the platform to reuse, including;

Within our CMS

  • Phase banner (fragment)
  • Accordion (web content)
  • Breadcrumbs (fragment)
  • Confirmation pages pattern (as web content)

Within the content editor

  • Notification Banner
  • Tag component 
  • GDS Button
  • Warning text 
  • Inset text
  • Panel
  • Details
  • Table

Within Forms

  • Summary list/Check answers pattern
  • Error message

We’re planning to increase this to include more components, including a Step-by-Step pattern.


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4. Fine-tuned Search 

Digital Place provides you with a ready-to-go search that leverages the power of Elasticsearch, configured to cover most needs, but can also be customised by customers through custom filters, facet filters etc. Content can be included or excluded from the site map through the UI with no need to use robots.txt. 

There’s a range of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) enhancements within the User Interface (UI) to help improve search engine results and publishing in platforms supporting Open Graph (such as Twitter and Facebook). Coming soon this year will be a new version of search suggestions as you type, and the use of search blueprints to fine tune your search.


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5. Editable Navigation Menus 

All Digital Place navigation menus are fully editable within the UI, and include your home page menu, the global drop-down menu available on every page, your footer links and social media links.


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6. Easy Role Management  

The most used roles needed for website management are already available for you in your Digital Place site, and can be customised easily. You can also create new roles to meet your exact needs meaning managing and assigning roles to users is child's play.


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7. Workflow and Authorisation Process 

You’ll want to ensure your content editors meet your website standards. Digital Place’s ready-made content workflow and authorisation process is there for you on day one. As with most of the platform, you can adjust this to meet your exact needs, but this will get you started quickly.


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8. Publish to suit your Schedule 

Going live with a new website is a huge task, and not always right to do in one bite. With the Digital Place Publications feature, you can easily work on whole sections of a new site behind the scenes, ensuring user journeys are just right and launch that section when ready as part of a phased approach. This can also be used once fully live to change sections or add new ones, safe in the knowledge that it will only go live when you want to.


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9. Effectively Manage Redirects

One of the biggest headaches in moving websites is how to manage broken links or ensure that your users get to the right place. The Digital Place redirection tool helps you easily manage new user journeys from old URLs to new ones without having to configure them at the server level. Changes being launched soon will include creating redirect patterns in Regex and tracking of 404 pages to help track and correct any problematic user journeys quickly.


At Placecube we pride ourselves on being a different sort of supplier. We work closely with our customers on their digital journey, providing support, advice, training and technical tips tailored to meet their needs.  You can discover more about Digital Place for Local Public Services here or talk a specialist directly.


Check out more resources

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Neil Lawrence

About The Author

Neil Lawrence

Neil is a Product Owner in Placecube' Product Team. Prior to joining the team, he worked for over three decades in the public sector at local authorities ranging from parish to unitary councils. He has a background in performance management, project management, improvement and transformation, and led the digital team at Oxford City Council.  While at Oxford he led a national collaborative project with 12 other councils carrying out user research into the use of chatbots to solve customer issues. Neil joined Placecube from Dorset Council where he led the Web Team and managed the migration of their website to Digital Place for Local Public Services.

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