The Commission for Rural Communities ensures that governmental policies reflect the real needs of people living and working in rural England. Collaborating closely with the CRC and following a user-centred consultation and engagement process, Headshift developed the organisation’s website and extranet system.
Fostering unity as well as free discussion
Working with the Commission for Rural Communities we faced the challenge of uniting groups and individuals based in very different places. After the initial consultation phase the main aim for the project became clearer. We understood that our focus had to be on building a platform that would foster a sense of unity, and at the same time allow different ideas to be discussed freely. Our solution eventually became a core piece of infrastructure for the organisation.
It is also worth mentioning that the Commission for Rural Communities is the first example of a government body using a wiki as their intranet. In fact, the more than 200 people working for the Commission “built” the extranet themselves, by uploading the content they individually found most relevant and helpful.
Building a vibrant community from scratch
The Commission for Rural Communities was a new organisation in need of an infrastructure when we started our consultation phase. Interestingly we could therefore use this opportunity to get in on the ground and help shape an organisation through social media tools.
Based on the outcomes of our consultation process we set about building two solutions, a public facing website and an internal extranet.
We built the website to meet certain client specifications, as well as incorporate the new insights from our research. The site is based around a central blog that incorporates different social media functions such as reader comments and a theme-based tagging structure. The themes lets readers see at a glance what the main issues are in each section. Words grow in relative size dependent upon how often they are used as tags.
For the extranet we customised the Confluence enterprise wiki – a highly versatile tool for collaboration and communication across distances. We incorporated the outcomes of our consultation phase in a process where the client could follow the evolution of the work very closely.
The wiki was built with group spaces as the core unit, and included tools for sharing information through blogs and comments, as well as more static pages holding permanent information, though with the ability to be updated by most users.
Very high user uptake and satisfaction
Following the consultation and implementation process of this project, it is great to see how employees are now engaged in a process of ongoing informal feedback and discussion. Experts are emerging from the CRC team, allowing them to identify previously unmapped organisational competencies.
The solution has generated very high levels of user uptake and still constitutes the organisation’s infrastructure backbone. Headshift continues to support The Commission for Rural Communities to make sure their website and extranet are working to the highest standards.