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Open Source council web site to share

March 19, 2014

I’m really pleased with what our web team has produced this year. We have replaced our Internet and Intranet sites with minimal costs and delivered something that is as good as I have seen anywhere in Local Government.

Our new site at solihull.gov.uk is:

  • User focussed in its design
  • Adaptive to mobile devices
  • Open Source in its technology
  • Transaction oriented

The Intranet site is all that plus:

  • Dripping with social media

Cost

And all of that for just under £150K for the pair (plus some staff time). That’s £100K on hardware and page authors, £40K on software and £10K on “other” (including a grand total of £4K on consultancy).

At around £75K for our council’s web site, we think that’s excellent Value for Money.

Design

We did all the design, development and testing in house, with a virtual team that included the Customer Contact Service, internal directorates, Communications, ICT and of course, users.

Our design is inspired by other local authority sites we liked and from those doing well in the “Better Connected” review. It was very important for us to have the digital transactions that citizens most commonly use right at the front of the website.

Open Source

For technical readers, we have gone for the Open Source digital solution Evoq from DNN Software (formerly “DotNetNuke”). Evoq  is one of the top five OpenSource web tools available.

We liked DNN because it fits with our .net & C# technical architecture. It also has an option to procure enterprise support, which is important for a small metropolitan borough.

These web developments continue our strategy to deploy Open Source wherever there is a business case. We recently celebrated 10 years of Open Source in our data centre, saving over £1 million.

Sharing

So both sites are live now, and we continue to develop and enhance (the perpetual beta).

We would be delighted to give away everything we have done to anyone else who wants to use it.

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4 Comments
  1. I absolutely love your site.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website
    yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own personal site and would love
    to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is called.
    Many thanks!

    • We have used the open source product DotNetNuke to build the website infrastructure. This is the technical architecture that houses the website content and enables themes to be applied by our content management specialists. We based our templates on the Adapt Skins purchased from the DNN Store (http://store.dnnsoftware.com/home/product-details/adapt-responsive-skins). We used these responsive templates as our base but rebuilt the look and feel ourselves in house.

  2. Sarah Spence permalink

    Dear Steve

    Fascinating read. I work at a local authority and completing an options analysis on what CMS we should use for our intranet. Three options are: commercial CMS, micro site deployed from our existing website CMS or open source.

    I’d love to be able to have 10 mins of your time to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the open source route. Many thanks, Sarah Spence

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