Arun District Council, located in West Sussex, serves the residents of Littlehampton, Bognor Regis, and Arundel as well as surrounding parishes. As part of its commitment to improving engagement with the community and delivering efficient local services, the council decided in the summer of 2010 to embark on a redevelopment of its website and intranet.
Web Accessibility and ease of use was a primary focus for Arun DC, as was a desire to improve the council's rating in the Socitm Better connected website rankings for local authority websites. These drivers brought about a search for a new content management system (CMS), to replace older software that was no longer supported, and new site designs that would reflect the council's priorities and those of its audience. Arun DC also wanted to use the same CMS platform for both website and intranet to ensure efficiency in the management of both and reduce training time to use the software.
After a rigorous tender process, Arun selected VerseOne to provide both its CMS and new designs for the website and intranet.
"We chose VerseOne because the offering seemed to suit us, particularly their knowledge of and interaction with the different stakeholders. It's very important to us to get everyone—both staff and Elected Members—engaged in using the web site as a key service delivery tool.
VerseOne were the most successful in the tender process due to both the functionality and quality of their software and services, as well as the cost-effectiveness of their offering."
Maureen Chaffe, former Head of Information Management at Arun DC
Arun DC benefited from VerseOne's Discovery Workshops—a framework designed to draw out the aims and objectives of each web project and incorporate the participation and wishes of relevant stakeholders across the entire project life cycle—and the workshops and consultations the process entails in order to ensure that every stage of the design and build of its new sites represents the council's identity and that of its community.
"We're very happy to be working with Arun," says Michele Gaudelli, Sales and Marketing Director at VerseOne. "This partnership is a very good opportunity for us both, and we look forward to working closely with the team at Arun for years to come to further perfect our solution for local government."
Arun District Council's website, designed and implemented in partnership with VerseOne and built on the flagship VerseOne CMS, went live on 4 May 2011, just in time for election day.
"It has been fantastic working with Maureen Chaffe and the rest of the Arun team," says Michele. "Developing their new website has been a challenging and exciting exercise, which has helped us to further our understanding of local authorities' web service drivers and requirements. They have been an excellent partner, and I'm very pleased they were able to engage with their citizens via the new site during the election and ballot-counting process."
Arun is busily promoting the new features of its website to service users: Just some of the new improvements already introduced include a range of electronic forms which allow Arun's customers to do things at the click of a mouse rather than make a call or special visit the council offices. These include changing your address online, registering for council tax online and applying for some council tax benefits online.
Arun aim to add even more features to the site which will make things easier and more efficient for their customers.
Sue Allder, VerseOne's Customer Engagement and Quality Director, adds, "We have further development planned with Arun, including a mobile template for their new website and the council's intranet. We are all very much looking forward to the future phases of this partnership."