Centralizing what matters

I must admit I’ve been taken aback a bit by the amount of interest we’ve had around Liverpool.gov.uk and how we changed the way it focuses on what people want and the way we manage the content of the site.

Both @conormoody and I have done a few talks over the last few weeks and the feedback has been really good with people genuinely interested in what we’ve achieved.

Central Content

One thing that really has struck a cord is how we have completely turned the content editing model for the site on its head.

Until we did the new site, we like many council’s had a devolved content model which in our case meant 260 content editors dotted around the council, editing various bits of our 4,000+ page, 4,500 policy document website. Each person had different skill levels and other commitments, there where very few (maybe no) people who had a dedicated job updating the website.This resulted in patchy results and quite an overhead for our central team in training and maintaining best practices across our varied content editor community. In reality it was a full time job for our content editors’ just maintaining all the others.

Content by the numbers

By digging into the logs of our content management system, we where able to track the editor activity on the site for the last two years and what we found was very interesting.

What we found was that for our 260 content editors, only 160 actually edited content in the last 12 months, and of those only 20 of them accounted for 70% of the changes to the site.


So we looked at what those people where updating, and it was the council’s policies, plans, and strategies – now all councils need these but very few people visiting the site do.

When we looked at our top tasks for the website we realised that the content for these areas of the site hardly ever changed, and more importantly was seriously neglected.

It was at this point we realised we had a problem, if where we’re going to deliver targeted customer focused website, we couldn’t neglect the most important part of that process the content, and that’s when we decided to centralize the content management of the site.

Changing the role of the content editor

It’s one thing to say you are going to manage all of the content for the site; it’s another thing to actually do it.

One problem is knowledge: when we started the top task exercise we had around 680 individual tasks or services mapped. Now asking one person to understand all of those services and translate them on the web really would be a super human effort.

The business owns the service, web own the content

What we decided to do was turn our content editors into service owners while our trained content editors in the team could do what they are good at and write targeted focused content for the web.

This way when a service changes, the service owner tells us the details of the change and we translate it into good copy for the web, given the infrequency that services change this is actually quite a low resource requirement in our team.

The full intention is to delegate news, jobs and the activities within our leisure centres back to the business, these are areas where we can offer any real value – but even before we have done that, we have two content editors who are easily managing to keep on top of change, and enhance the site as we go along.