West Berkshire Council

Digital Services Blog

Highlighting the work of our Digital Services Team


Text Logo for LocalGov Digital Voice

Booking Dot West Berkshire

Re-designing how the council takes bookings

Written on: 6-10-2016


If you've heard of digital transformation you'll probably know it means re-designing the services an organisation offers, so they use the internet to better meet the needs and expectations of residents. Without the jargon, what it really means is re-designing how our services work so they're cheaper to run and are available to you 24/7.

From arranging someone to officiate your wedding, to booking a slot to speak at a planning committee, there are lots of things our residents can book with us and we're starting to look at this as part of our digital transformation work. To help us with this we're asking for five minutes of your time to fill in a short survey on what you book online now please.

Whether you live in West Berkshire or not we'd be really grateful if you could take part in the survey here and share it with others please. Your answers will help us provide an improved service that better meets your needs, 


PALS get a little help from Digital Services

Written on: 11-8-2016

Here in Digital Services our primary responsibility is to our customers, residents and service users who will use our online services.  We're always working to make them better, easier and more joined-up to save time, money and give a good impression of our council.

But it's not just our day job - team member Lizzie Roe is a volunteer for a local West Berkshire charity, PALS, and has been doing great work to help our communities outside of work time.

PALS supports children and young people from aged five to 25, who have physical disabilities and/or a sensory impairment, to do different activities.

Lizzie tells us "I became involved in PALS a few years ago and was recently contacted by Helen, the manager, to see if I was available to volunteer for activities after not having attended for a time. I agreed, and now regularly help out at the youth club.

"Helen mentioned in passing that she was working to commission a new website and updating the information and images. I offered to help, and have since spent a little under 10 hours working with Helen to improve the site.

The website uses WordPress, and is hosted by a local company.

"The first thing we looked at was updating the information - which was horribly out of date!

"Previously the sections 'Who We Are', 'Mission Statement', 'Who Can We Help?' and 'Our History' were all on one page, so we split out the information onto separate pages. Moving the information to individual pages decreased the size of pages and makes it easier for the reader to find what they want. It also allowed us to use more images, giving a taste of the different activities.

"'The PALS Committee' and 'Activities We Run' are two of the pages that have seen the most changes.

Helen and I decided to include images and a small bio about the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee and images of the other Committee members, to be updated when more become available.

The 'Activities We Run' page has been totally rearranged and includes more images demonstrating the wide range of activities PALS does with children and young people. The information has been updated and rearranged into easy-to-read sections.

"We added several new sections to the website including, 'Testimonials' and 'News'. The donate buttons that feature on every page are also a new addition. As PALS is a charity that is entirely funded by donations, it is important for them to encourage donations and make it easy for people to make them."

Helen said "It's been brilliant to have Lizzie back with us; she's a fantastic volunteer and a great asset to have helping at our youth groups. Lizzie has also been the lead person in helping to revamp our website, a task I could never have achieved on my own!  We are all thrilled with our new website and it is thanks to Lizzie."

You can see more about PALS on their website!

Our Digital Principles

The principles by which we build and manage our digital services.

Written on: 6-7-2016

In June our Customer First Programme Board agreed a set of Digital Principles to which our public facing digital services should be built and managed. You can see them below.


Traditional Practice

Digital Principle

Consider face-to-face, email and telephone as the default channel for delivering services and information.


Consider digital as the default channel for delivering services and information.

Deliver digital services on a service by service basis to a varying standard.

Adopt a corporate, joined-up approach to delivering digital services to a national standard, focusing on user need.


Conduct periodic mystery shopper exercises.


Capture, measure and act on user satisfaction and usage data for each digital service.

Procure IT systems and develop online forms to support existing processes.


Redesign existing processes to take advantage of the efficiencies and improved user experience digital can provide.

Clearly define the desired outcome and the solution for each project from the start.


Clearly define the desired outcome for each project from the start. Discover the solution through user research, prototyping and user testing.

Deliver all projects using Waterfall methodology.


Deliver projects using an Agile methodology, where appropriate.

Duplicate existing functionality as part of a solution.


Re-use existing functionality and design as part of a solution and make sure capabilities and data can be re-used where possible.

Work alone to procure or develop and deliver services.


Work with other councils and partners to procure or develop shared digital services.

Delivery to a defined project schedule, with a distinct end point.


Continue to develop and improve digital services in response to user needs

Focus mainly on the technology being developed or procured to deliver the service

Focus on the skills of the team developing or procuring the technology to deliver the service..


The challenge for us now is (where appropriate) to move from Traditional to Digital as an organisation, making sure we include everyone.

If you'd like to know more please get in touch by emailing digital@westberks.gov.uk.

Coffee for Your Thoughts?

Guerilla user testing in coffee shops

Written on: 22-4-2016

Digital Services - Image of User Testing Sign

Next week, two members of the Digital Services Team are venturing out into our communities to ask our residents (and in one case, the residents of a neighbouring local authority) what they think of a specific bit of our website.

We're keen on making sure it does what customers need it to do. What better way to make sure than to ask the people who'll be using it?

We'll be setting up in a couple of well-known coffee shops (with the permission of the management) to politely ask people to spend five minutes giving us the benefit of their views on our site.  We're offering the chance to be included in a prize draw for coffee vouchers too.

So that we don't make a nuisance of ourselves, we've worked with our brilliant graphics team to come up with a bit of signage we can use to advertise what we're doing (see image!).

They've also given us a pdf icon version you can use too [546kb] - just pop your organisation's branding on and you're away.  Feel free to use it!

We always publish the results of our user tests online, so check back when we're done to see what we found.

If you'd like to join in yourself, you don't have to visit a coffee shop - you can take our survey online.

Learning Success for Digital Services

Team member Lizzie passes her NVQ with flying colours

Written on: 21-4-2016

STOCK IMAGE - Colourful Blocks (E-Learning)

Lizzie Roe, our Digital Content Assistant, recently achieved her NVQ Level 3 Diploma in ICT Professional Competence, something she's been working toward for the past year.

Doing an NVQ can be a great way to gain a qualification whilst working, and Lizzie received several distinctions as she completed her course.

As part of a multi-disciplinary team, Lizzie provides help with a wide range of our activities, from her main role in assisting with creating and maintaining high quality content for customers, to assisting with the creation of forms and with user testing with our communities.

She explained:

"I've done several NVQs previously and I wanted to complete one that was more appropriate to my job role as a Content Assistant. The qualification is made up of completing a technical certificate and producing evidence to cover different criteria. One of the most common ways to cover the criteria is to write up a task you have completed, explaining how and why you took the steps you did. This also helps you to evaluate the process that is currently in place and look to see if there could be any improvements made. For example, we produce a number of internal guides for staff about using our content management system and how best to write for the web. Writing up this process led to some improvements in the content of the guides, that help our colleagues.  I really enjoyed the course, and was delighted to pass with such good results - the skills I learned will definitely help me in doing my job!"

Congratulations and well done Lizzie from the team.