Tag Archives: Council website

We are ready to switch off our old website

In April we switched on our new website and in mid-September we will switch off our old website.

Since January we have moved over 2,000 pages from the old website to the new website. Before we started, we carried out a content audit to make sure that nothing important has been missed.

We are happy that all critical content has now been moved, so it is time to say goodbye to the old website.

What does this mean for you?

If you are already using our new website then you do not need to do anything different.

If you are still using our old website, then why not try the new one?

This is what the old website looks like:

Old website screenshot
Old Bradford Council website

And this is the new one:

New website screenshot
New Bradford Council website

If you are not sure which website you have been using, there is also a clue in the website address. If the address begins with legacy.bradford.gov.uk or www.bradford.gov.uk/bmdc
then you are still on our old website.

Linking to http://www.bradford.gov.uk

If you use links to the old website, after mid-September the links may not work. You will need to start using new links. The easiest way to find the correct new link for a page is to use the website search on our new website.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on our new website, please use the ‘Rate this page’ form which you will find on almost every page of our website. Continue reading We are ready to switch off our old website

Help us improve our What’s On guide

We are about to start working on a replacement for our events website. We have a list of improvements we want to make, but we would like to know if you have any suggestions to help it work better for you.

Have you used our online What’s On guide to find local events? Have you used it to submit your own local events to the guide? If so, we would like to know if you have a wish list of ways you think it could work better.

Some of the things that we already have on our list of improvements are:

  • Make it mobile friendly so it works as well on your phone as it does on your PC
  • Better filtering, so you can filter by more than one criteria
  • Improved sharing options to make it easier for you to share events with friends

If you want to have a look at our current What’s On website before giving us your ideas, you can find it at www.bradford.gov.uk/events.

There are several ways you can send us your suggested improvements for the What’s On guide. From this page you can send us a private message using the contact form below or leave a public comment at the bottom of the page. Alternatively you can tweet@bradfordmdc or contact us on Facebook with your ideas.

Making our new website live

Today we have made our new website live at www.bradford.gov.uk.

We launched the beta version of our website on Monday, 29 February 2016. Since then almost 2,000 people have visited the website, and many of those visitors have sent us very useful feedback about the website’s design and information.

What information is on the new website?

We have moved our most used information and online forms onto our new website. This makes up almost 50% of the content that we know needs moving. We’ll be moving the rest in the coming months. While reviewing our content we have also taken the opportunity to work with Council departments to rewrite web pages in plain English.

The information that we haven’t moved yet is still available on our old website at http://legacy.bradford.gov.uk.

What to do if you can’t find what you’re looking for

If you haven’t found what you want on our new website, it is possible that we haven’t yet moved that content from our old website. Please try the website search. We’ve added a link to the bottom of the search results on our new website so that you can search our old site for the information.

Can't find what you want on our new website? Search our old site.
Can’t find what you want on our new website? Search our old site.

Will there be broken links?

The way our new website makes web page addresses (known as URLs) is different to the way our old website worked. Every page on our new website has a different URL to the corresponding page on the old site. This means that all existing links to, or between, pages on our old website have now changed. Continue reading Making our new website live

Updates to our new website as of 11 March

We launched our beta website at the end of February and asked you to try it out and tell us what you think of it. It’s important that we get your views on the new site, so that we can make it work for you.

In our last blog post we explained how we are developing the new website. Over the next couple of months we will be moving more content to the new website, adding more functionality to it (such as new page templates), and making changes to the design. We plan to make changes to the website once a week, and we will put a summary of those changes here on our blog.

Changes made between 29 February and 11 March

We have added these sections of content

Births, marriages and deaths

  • Register a birth or a death
  • Get a copy certificate
  • Fees

We will add more of the births, marriages and deaths information in the coming months.

Benefits and Council Tax

All of our benefits and Council Tax information has been added.

Your Council

  • Elections
  • Council budgets and spending
  • How Bradford Council works
  • Your councillors
  • Meetings, reports and agendas

We have made these changes to the functionality

  1. BrowsealoudWe have added Browsealoud to the website. You can use this to read the website to you. There is a link to it in the footer of every page.
  2. We have added some online forms, for example the form to contact the Street Naming and Numbering Service.

We have made these changes to the design

Continue reading Updates to our new website as of 11 March

Test the new Bradford Council website

You can now try using a test version of the new Bradford Council website. You can still use the old website while we continue to move content into the new one and test how it works.

We are calling the new test site a “beta” version of the website. You will be able to tell if you are on the beta site because all pages on it will begin with beta.bradford.gov.uk and there is an orange “beta” label at the bottom left of every page.

The old website will continue to be at www.bradford.gov.uk while we test the new site.

We have already moved some of the high priority content onto the beta website and we will move other information over one section at a time. After all content has been moved on to the new site, and it has been thoroughly tested, we will switch off the old website. At this point the link starting with www will point to the new website and we won’t need the beta link anymore. We expect to do this in May.

The beta website is not yet fully finished. As well as moving the content over, there are some bits of functionality and design that we are still tweaking. But it is working well enough for you to test it while we refine it. We wanted to release the test version now so that you can give us your feedback and help us to make it work for you.

Try the new site now and give us your feedback

On every page of the new website you will see a box titled ‘Rate this page’. Please help us to make the website work for you, by using that link to give us feedback about your experience of using the new site. We would like to know if you are able to find what you want to find and do what you want to do.

The number of people who visit our current website on a smartphone or tablet has been growing for several years.  We want to make sure our new website works well whatever device people use and we have been testing our new website on a variety of devices. You are welcome to do the same. If you have more than one type of device (for example a laptop and a smartphone) please feel free to test our beta website on both and tell us how you feel about each.

Continue reading Test the new Bradford Council website

Reviewing content for our new website

Helen Valentine of our web team has been working out which content on our current website needs to be kept as we move to our new website. Here, Helen talks about this process.

As part of the project to redesign our main website I have done a content inventory of our current website. This means that we know what’s on the website, which department provided the information, who looks at it, and how often it’s looked at. I started the inventory in May 2015, and it took about six months to pull together all the information that I needed so that we had a full picture of our website.

How did I carry out the inventory?

I started the inventory by looking at the site map of all the pages in our current content management system. I put basic information about all these pages into an Excel spreadsheet. For example, for each page we know:

  • which section of the website it is in
  • which department provided the information
  • when it was last updated
  • whether it is a page of text and images or an online form.

I also recorded whether the page was intended for anyone to read, for a specialist (e.g. for people who work in adult social care), or for Council staff.

Using Google Analytics and information from our Contact Centre, I added statistics for each page to the spreadsheet, so we know how often each page was looked at over a 12 month period, and how often someone used our web forms. We also know what proportion of visitors to each page used a mobile phone or tablet to look at the page, and how many of those visitors were using council computers. This last detail is important because we believe Council staff use our website in a different way to members of the public.

I also reviewed all the pages to see whether any information was available elsewhere online. For example, some of our food safety information could also be found on the Food Standards Agency website.  So we removed our copy of the information and linked to the FSA website instead.

In May 2015 we had 4,100 pages on our main website. Now, after reviewing the content, we have reduced this to 3,200 pages.

What have we done with this information?

In December 2015 we ran some workshops where members of different council departments discussed the new website and what information they felt they need on it. We used my content inventory to show the departments what information they have on the website now.

What will we do next?

In our first blog post about the new website, we said that we plan to have a public test version of our website (the “beta” website) available in February. We have used our content inventory to help decide which information we will put into the beta website first.  We will carry on moving content onto the beta website once it is live, and we’re using the inventory to help us make sure nothing important is missed out.

As the public use the beta website, we will gather feedback and usage statistics. This will help us refine the website to make sure it meets the needs of our users before we turn off the old website.


I’d like to say thank you to Sarah Lay at Nottinghamshire County Council for the useful discussions we’ve had about carrying out a content audit. You can read more about her experience of auditing content and building a new council website on the Nottinghamshire County Council Digital First blog.

By Helen Valentine

Designing how our new website will look

Choosing a new look for the Council’s website is a challenging process with many things to take into consideration. Things such as:

  • branding
  • ease of navigation and access to relevant parts of the site
  • accessibility (how readable it is for people with disabilities)
  • how well it will work on a wide range of devices, from PCs to tablets to smartphones
  • visual appeal
  • compliance with various standards
  • download speed
  • and so on

Our first design ideas

The process started with an understanding of what we wanted to achieve through the design. Then we produced layouts using graphics software to create mock-ups of how the finished site will look, including examples of the home page, content pages and how it might look on mobile devices. To begin with, our web team created six completely different layouts, considering how they would look on different devices. Some of these initial designs are shown below. Click on any of the twelve images to see for a larger view.

The design idea we are now working with

Through a process of consultation and elimination and of tweaking the original design ideas, we finally arrived at the design that we thought best serves the purpose of the website. This is how the homepage looks in our new design: Continue reading Designing how our new website will look

Home page of the Bradford Council website

Our new website: help us make it work for you

We have started work on a redesign of our main website. The site will have a new structure and a new layout.  We want to make the new website work for local people as well as it possibly can.  So, we would like you to get involved in testing it and suggesting how you want it to work.

Why now?

We have to redesign our website because the current site uses old software that we can no longer support. Our new website will be built using Umbraco, which is open source software. The new website is being developed by our web team, whereas the current site was developed by an external company. Bringing the website in-house means that in the future we will be able to react quickly if we have to change the design or how it works. Doing the website ourselves will also enable us to save money.

We are designing the website so it is easy to use whether you are using a smart phone, a tablet or a desktop computer. We are also going to improve the information on the website so that it is easy to find and understand.

When will the new website be ready?

We hope to have the first version of our new website ready by February 2016. This will be a “beta” version of the website and you will be able to test the website to see how it works, whether you like the layout and design, and whether the information on it is useful and easy to find. Our current website will still be available while this testing is done.

Would you like to help us?

Are you interested in helping us with our new website? We would like to hear from you if:

  • you have any suggestions for what the new website should look like
  • you have any suggestions for what you’d like to be able to do on the new website
  • you have any comments about our current website or if you have any problems using it
  • you would like to help test our new website

Continue reading Our new website: help us make it work for you

Improving the mobile experience on our website

About 45% of people who visit our website are using a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). We have made some changes to the way the website works to improve the experience for people using these smaller screens.

The biggest change you will notice is on our homepage, where we focused on the things we know people use the most. On a smartphone, the first things you will now see are a search box, the A-Z and a list of top tasks.

Homepage on a smartphone before and after changes

We have made more subtle changes to other pages of the website. On a smartphone, the main navigation menu now sits below the content on most of our pages, rather than to the left. This allows the main section of the page to look bigger, filling the whole width of the phone’s screen. If you need to use the main menu on your smartphone, just swipe down the page and you will see it at the bottom. Continue reading Improving the mobile experience on our website

Checking our website for errors

Our website needs to have good quality information on it. If the content isn’t good enough people in the district won’t go online to request services and find out what they need to know.

It’s important that there are no broken links and no spelling mistakes on our website. Broken links can make it harder for you to find the information you want and spelling mistakes can make information harder to understand.

How we check the website

One way we can check the quality of our website is with Site Improve. Every 5 days their software checks around 5000 pages and tells us if we have  any broken links or spelling mistakes. Our web team fixes any errors that Site Improve finds.

This week Site Improve checked 4,066 pages on our website and found 0 broken links and 0 spelling mistakes. We’re rather pleased about that.

SiteImprove 0 errors found on bradford.gov.uk

Painting the Forth Bridge

The information on our website is changing all the time, with about 150 pages being updated every week.  So, the web team regularly use Site Improve to check everything is up to scratch. With so many pages to keep on top of, it can sometimes seem like painting the Forth Bridge. So, it is particularly satisfying to have got the errors down to a nice round zero this week.

If you spot something that isn’t right on our website, you can tell us on our online feedback form.

We’ll be making more changes to the website in the next few months, and we’ll use this blog to keep you up to date with what we’re working on.