Where are we at with the WPG review?

Author: 
Susan Baird
Category: 
The Department of Finance Archive

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Well, what has the WPG Review Team been doing since January? Quite a bit actually, despite our lack of blog presence! The team was subject to some membership changes which meant some work had to be put on hold, sadly including the blog. Part of life in any organisation, but does cause some disruption.

Project Management

We have also had some team and scope changes to the project. Originally a new Content Management System (CMS) was out of scope however, after further analysis, this has changed and is now a core deliverable of the project. Accordingly, our project manager has been diligently updating her project management documentation to reflect the changes associated with our restructure and project scope. This is always a worthwhile exercise as it is easy to underestimate time frames and the resources required for this type of project until you sit down and map it all out.

Content Management System

One of the major changes to the project has been inclusion of a new CMS. The current infrastructure is close to its end of life, so we need to move on. The original premise was this would be a smaller project at the end of the review, but it has now been rolled up into the main project. The impact to the project is mostly on changes to the design work which had already been undertaken. The design assumptions were based on the old CMS capabilities and have had to be updated.

Information Architecture & design

We have been finalising our Information Architecture (IA) and mocking up wireframes. As part of this process we have identified several new page features including a better header section, a ‘date last reviewed’ field and a feedback link on every page (both the focus group and comments on the blog wanted this one). We are still debating the merits of a ‘rate this page’ facility.  It’s useful to get feedback – a number of people have thumb upped or downed comments on this blog which has been helpful. However, the widgets we have researched to date all require JavaScript, which means the accessibility of the site is not as good as it could be. We are interested to hear from anyone who has implemented this functionality in an accessible way? We have also spent a lot of time thinking about the structure of individual pages. We currently use a series of headings to chunk information which, according to our market research, is a very popular format. However, we have discovered that there are some types of content that do not lend themselves logically to this format, (‘policy considerations’ and ‘how to’ are the prime examples). To this end we have been working on a new format for this content that won’t compromise the usability or usefulness of the site.

Metadata

We have also been working on identifying and documenting metadata to support the WPG. This is a perennial question about the need for metadata versus the business as usual (BAU) impact of updating it. We will be implementing a faceted search capability that requires new metadata elements and are also keen to improve the discoverability of our content through better metadata. This is not possible in our current CMS, however will make BAU much easier to manage once we have migrated to our new CMS.

Content Management Strategy

The work we have done on our IA and metadata has enabled us to progress our Content Management Strategy. We have included basic language and style standards within the Strategy as well as page templates for the different page types within the WPG, including

  • Homepage
  • Menu pages
  • Factsheets
  • Policy pages
  • Checklists

We’ll be writing up more on these topics over the next few weeks.

Comments (7)

Great news - good to see it's coming together! (ps - change my rating from 2 to 4 please - iPhone didn't get it right!)

Javascript can be a thorny problem if you simply try to use off-the-shelf components.

WebAIM has some useful guidance on the topic: http://www.webaim.org/techniques/javascript/

Cheers,

Craig

@Chris:

Unfortunately we don't have the capacity to change user ratings. But thank you for your kind words! The team appreciates your interest.

@Craig:

Thanks for the link!

Re rate this page, there was a study done by the NNgroup. When grouped with the question "your comments or how can we improve" the ROI returned is impressive. Very impressive!

I reckon AGIMO should employ a PHP developer for a day or two to extend the plugin to be accessible and allow the plugin to be used by all of government. All that'd be required is adding an ELSE statement to display an alternative when javascript is disabled and for the variable in the alternative to be fed into the rate page code (whether it's PHP or javascript).

Or AGIMO could pay the guy (Lester Chan) who wrote the script to make it accessible, given he wrote it for free he'd probably appreciate a bit of $ in return.

Hi Susan, WPG Review Team and Others

The blogs are a really valuable way of staying connecting with the general community.

Whatever the hiccups are with approval, implementation or internal re-vamping or staff shortage, my view is that some impetus needs to be maintained to keep interest alive.

So thanks for bringing me up to date as I am a newcomer to the whole Gov2 thing and to blogging.

On the issue of where appropriate posts should be made, I have struggled a bit with this especially if my blog content crosses across several subject headings.

Even with could tags, labels and sidebar marketing strategies to attract a response there can be some practical difficulties for responders like me - especially those without tech know-how.

I found that in wishing to keep the continuity of a theme I often posted to the same spot (The Faceless Bureaucrat is one example) where as I found my way round the Gov2 pages some of the comments would have been better placed elsewhere such as Project 13.

Since I have so much reading to catch up with to become more familiar I am on a bit of a back foot. My barrage of blogs to various individual pages is evidence that I am working hard to catch up between the much more boring and demanding tasks of responding to formal consultative arenas.

My experience of spending countless hours preparing possibly useful response to more traditional consultative arenas (Discussion Papers Issues Papers, Draft Decisions etc) has been largely unrewarding.

One major drawback of my personal style is verbosity and wish to get much said about multiple topics.

In reviewing my own approach and how annoying and burdensome it may often be seen to be at the other end, the concept of chunking may well be the answer.

For example I have made two very long posts to Project 13 in the past 24 hours

see

http://gov2.net.au/projects/project-13/comment-page-1/#comment-13266

I have more to add that needs to be kept in sequence on the same theme so will leave a few days and then post the third and even fourth installments to keep everything together now I know where to go.

On reflection if I had discovered Project 13 earlier many comments placed elsewhere would have been better placed there.

However, I am no expert on information management or cross-referencing and the nitty gritty of logistics needs to be something worked out.

Side-bars are great for me as if I see a title that grabs me and I can respond quickly as in this post, it will draw my attention.

The thumbs up and thumbs down rating is probably very useful to have but I am sure you are also looking for some real live blogging and personalized response to show what is appreciated (or not).

I try to provide this where I can.

I would just love to see a preview facility, spell check and cancel button in case. Sometimes I am just too hasty to pick up an omission or error.

Also I would to see an out-out default button for notifying of own posts and responses. I do like to keep a record and often find that I press send before ticking the box requesting notification, with the outcome that I have only received some emailed notifications and not others.

For me, I prefer to have my own posts automatically sent even if no-one bothers to reply. I often quote myself from another page or elsewhere or refer to a previous comment so a quick way for me to manage this is to have emailed records filed in one place. Saves time.

Cheers

Madeleine (Kingston)

Individual newcomer stakeholder

Hi Susan and AGIMO Team

I was on the point of posting this under "A Beginner's Guide for Finance Employees" in respopnse to Peter's blog where I saw a snapshot of the guide and mention of APS values. However, since my comments are broader perhaps they are better made here and cross-linked as appropriate to other pages.

I would love to see the Guide more publicly available under Creative Licence. It will also act as a marketing tool. Since there has been a bit of a lull raising awareness and some interaction would be terrific

Down the track a manageable degree of two way dialogue would be fantastic.

I am yet to read the Guide so early days to comment, but glad that APS values are emphasized.

Within the constraints of respect and so on I do believe moderation policies should be liberally interpreted if there is a genuine wish to obtain real time feedback from stakeholders.

Some like me can be direct but still courteous. If policies are not working they need to be highlighted in a timely manner.

The ACCC use naming and shaming techniques to deter unacceptable behaviour. It often works.

A good part of the public service is privatized through incorporation. Despite this many of these bodies are acting in a public role. They have accountabilities that they do not always recognize understand or admit to. Frequently decisions that are complex and inter-related are made in vacuum conditions without intra-body and inter-body collaboration, let alone effective collaboration with the stakeholders to whom services are being provided.

Where effective dialogue or other problems are identified they should be transparently highlighted.

As someone who has, despite all efforts, phenomenal stamina and persistence endeavouring to communicate withy government services in formal consultative dialogue over the last four years, I have been more than disappointed with outcomes. I should be able to say this openly, even naming the agencies where improvement is required, or for that matter where policies are seen to be harmful.

Waiting to respond to the often inadequately cushioned narrow Terms of Reference of many consultative processes may mean waiting till it is too late.

Finally how about something more concrete for community-based bloggers as stakeholders to provide better guidance about moderation policies. I often just do not know why a post is moderated or delayed when posting publicly. If a post is rejected something beyond an auto no-reply message without explanation should be provided in order that the poster, who may be a regular like me can better understand what to avoid on a future occasion.

May I suggest a more secure posting site on matters that are sensitive and should remain confidential but would nevertheless be useful information for top governance bodies or personnel to have? If for example a post is rejected for such reasons, perhaps it does belong somewhere else, and the poster should have the option of re-posting to a more secure part of the arena.

This of course does raise the question of transparency and accountability.

My view is that if something is worth attending to, it is worth being stated publicly. If you were to examine as many public submissions as I have in the past four years you will see that some stakeholders are unrestrained in terms of frank inputs about poor policies and decision-making by bodies that need to address those deficiencies in the public interest.

At the end of the day balancing public interests can be a delicate and challenging matter but leaning towards too soft an approach may be hampering the central goals of addressing policies in a timely manner and encouraging frank input from stakeholders so that community expectations of service delivery can be examined and addressed.

Elsewhere on Gov2 I have mentioned the issue of “toughening-up” those who feel vulnerable and insecure over negative feedback. After all it is the negative experience from which we learn most. Searching questions, challenge to policies and decisions are part of the process of developing optimal service delivery. Learning to deal with the challenges presented by transparency and honesty in open consultation is part of the process of becoming a better service-provider.

How does that sound? Too harsh? Too scary? Should we be looking at dealing with how best misgivings about these issues can be addressed rather than limiting the quality and frankness of inputs?

I have posted other pertinent material under other pages like "It's the Community Stupid" "Behind the Blog Record Keeping and other places.

Cheers

Madeleine

Newcomer Individual Stakeholder (Community)

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Last updated: 27 July 2016