Birmingham council website wins Plain English Award

Birmingham City Council’s new website has won a 2017 Plain English Award.

Each year the Plain English Campaign recognises the best and worst examples of English.

Birmingham City Council is Europe’s largest local authority and its website receives over 37 million page views per annum. In early 2016 it commissioned Spacecraft Digital to redesign its website and engage residents every step of the way.

Al of the content was rewritten with a particular focus on making it easy to read, particularly on mobile devices.

The website was also honoured at this year’s Webby and Lovie Awards.

The PlainEnglish.co.uk website said of the city council’s website: “When the time came to revamp their website, Birmingham City Council felt that the best results would involve the contribution of its users. So they collaborated with locals through the design process, and the results are excellent.

“The new website is a joy to use, and is a credit to everyone involved. It looks great, is easy to navigate and is a vast improvement. Perhaps this example will set a precedent other city councils might follow?”

Brigid Jones, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We are delighted that our website has won the Plain English Campaign website category. A lot of work has been done to make sure Birmingham City Council’s website is accessible to as many people as possible.”

Matt Culpin, creative director, Spacecraft Digital, said: “The first rewrite of content was audited once added to the site and then reworked and reworked again. The new site features a lot less content than before and is more user and mobile friendly.”

Paula Buckley, assistant director, customer service at Birmingham City Council, said: “There was a focus on ensuring internal council terminology didn’t creep onto the website. This was difficult for some service specialists as that terminology is part of their everyday language, but plain English is so important to good UX.

“One example is a resident trying to apply for a white line to stop people parking outside their driveway on a dropped kerb. This was previously labelled only as a ‘H bar’, which is not a term the vast majority of residents would be aware of. The term ‘white line’ was added to the content. It sounds simple, but making sure common terms are used, vastly improves the user experience.”

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