A different web consultancy project


The new Medway Primary Care Trust (PCT) website has just launched at www.medwaypct.nhs.uk.

The site was designed and build by the team at Netsite, and I acted as website consultant for the folks at the PCT.

It was an interesting role for me, as usually with these projects I’m either the client who’s commissioning the project, or in the agency role shaping and delivering the site. On this project my role was mainly to help the client team understand the objectives of the site and develop a site structure to achieve these objectives.

The client team wasn’t particularly experienced in website creation – for an organisation like a PCT the creation of a website from scratch is pretty much a one-off project, so they needed to buy in some expertise to help them.

The danger with these kinds of projects is that the site structure often ends up replicating internal organisational silos, rather than meeting customer objectives. The initial suggestions for the site’s information architecture did just that.

Through a series of interviews, a scoping workshop and some customer testing I developed a customer-focused site structure, and secured buy-in for this from the key client personnel and the web agency.

It’s great to see it live on the web now.

The other thing is that you’ll spot there are no social media goodies on there at all. It’s very much a web 1.0 site. And that’s very deliberate.

The audience for this site is extremely broad, and so the site needed to be as simple and as “conventional” as possible. While that in itself doesn’t preclude using some social media elements, I felt a fair proportion of the target audience and the organisation itself wasn’t ready for social media.

One day I’m sure some social media tools will be mainstream enough to be used on a site like the PCT’s, but that time hasn’t come yet.

That said my team at Medway Council is working hard on a couple of very exciting social media projects for the council that should launch late 2006 – and from what I can see those will be pushing new territory for the public sector in the UK by targeting niche audiences that aren’t reached by traditional public sector communications.