Participatory websites – what does good practice look like?

I’ve previously blogged about being invited to be part of a task and finish group to develop a health and wellbeing site for the Welsh citizen, and I attended the follow up meeting on Monday. I was asked to do a short presentation at the meeting on a website that I thought presented information well and was a good model for what the group is looking to do.

Most other attendees looked at sites that were run by Social Services, but because I’m awkward, I chose not to!

Young Flintshire

First off, I asked Twitter. I asked for examples of good websites, as I was initially struggling. Participation Cymru are fortunate enough to have some very bright followers, including Dynamix, who suggested “Any site that has verified it’s text through the Up-Goer Five text editor” (a really useful site than can help you to identify and cut out jargon). Easy Read Health Wales suggested their own website, which is fantastically clear and aims to give people with learning difficulties Easy Read information on health and well-being.

I eventually plumped for the suggestion of CLIConline. I chose one of their regional websites, Young Flintshire, because I felt that the background did not make it as difficult to read for the visually impaired, although no images should be behind text at all.

I chose this website because of its interactive nature, which I feel is vital if the website is going to be responsive and citizen-centred. Right at the top of the website there is a call to action, which asks for young people to get involved in the site. The latest articles, what’s being said and the most viewed are highlighted, which clearly shows that the website is active and current. The poll also gives young people a chance to have their say without impinging on their experience of the site. The features section of the site also enables the organisation to highlight news that it feels people need to know.

I then referred specifically to the Information Index of the website, which would be most similar to the information hub. This section was vivid, and as an example the Education section had a video as an alternative to the text so that people could watch a project in action. It was clear here how important it is that people have the space to comment and have their say, as alongside the throwaway comments about hating school was a comment from a young person who said they were being bullied. This gave the opportunity for the editor to refer them to sources of help, which would simply never have happened if there was no chance for people to feedback.

Before I left I took the opportunity to feed in information from the Citizen’s Panel for Social Services in Wales, including that the information on the site should be based on the Social Model of Disability, not the Medical Model. We feel really lucky to be working with the panel, who are all lovely people and have provided us with so much invaluable knowledge that will feed in to the Social Services improvement agenda in Wales and also improve how we work.

– Dyfrig


4 thoughts on “Participatory websites – what does good practice look like?

  1. Pingback: Participatory websites – what does good practice look like? | | weeklyblogclub

  2. Pingback: I love technology, art and learning! | weeklyblogclub

  3. Janet E Davis

    Very interesting post! I found the Young Flintshire site quite difficult to read (but I’m middle-aged so not the target audience) due to background image, and the layout and strong background colours of the information boxes. These days, I try to ensure that websites work as well on a mobile as on laptop or desktop, and would especially for websites that young people might use.

  4. Participation Cymru Post author

    Hi Janet, really good points! I agree that the background images behind the text do make it hard to read. The workshop leaders did feel there too many boxes on the page, and there are some instances where readability isn’t great with the text not standing out from the background. That would be my criticism of the website, but I felt that I should take something participative to the group and highlight a different approach to public service information. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes forward from here!

    I think that your point about it needing to work well on mobile is brilliant too, with more and more people accessing the internet from mobile devices we can’t afford to have a site that looks rubbish on a mobile or tablet. Cheers!


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