Bristol City Council has launched its new website, promising a more “user-friendly experience” which will make it easier for people to pay bills and apply for benefits.
The new site, which uses ‘open-source’ software to reduce costs and provide greater flexibility to develop the site over the next five years, is also hoped to cut council costs.
Local digital companies have been involved in the development of the new website and the council hopes to expand the numbers involved in developing the site in the future.
Council Leader Barbara Janke said: “Bristol is widely recognised for its strong media, creative and digital economy. But for a city with such a strong record, the council’s website was outdated and cluttered with far too much information that had built up over time.
“The new site should be much more user-friendly, and include easier ways to pay, apply and report online, which will be developed further over the next few years.
“It will also provide a more effective and modern service to visitors and investors.
“In times of budget savings, the decision to invest in the new site was carefully considered. But large savings will be made in costs of transactions, remote and flexible staff working. A much more cost-effective and efficient service will also be available to residents.”
The cost to the council of an online transaction averages at 40p – this compares with £4.62 to handle a transaction over the phone and £7.03 for face-to-face. The aim is to increase the number of residents using self-service including online to 40% by 2012/13, up from 15% now.
The new site’s budget averages £160,000 per year over five years. This includes design, development, migration of content and ongoing support.
The new website is based on the Drupal content management system. Speaking to Bristol24-7 last year, Paul Aragoni from Bristol City Council said Drupal had been chosen because it “was the most useful, had the most support and was used on a variety of government-style sites around the world”.
Open-source content management systems, such as Drupal, are used as the base for websites and are created, supported and developed by communities online. They are normally free of charge for users and can be downloaded by anyone. Other major systems include WordPress and Joomla which – along with Drupal – are used by tens of millions of websites including major media, political and business organisations.