Introducing a simple, helpful tool for decommissioning websites

This is a post by Jono Ellis, our Social Media Manager

Websites within the Scottish public sector portfolio that are out of date, duplicating information available elsewhere or are no longer maintained help sustain a poor experience for citizens. Through working with our partners, we are spotting candidates that display these poor attributes and are thus low hanging fruit for transitioning to www.mygov.scot. This should be a seamless process for all involved.

It’s important that we get our approach to transitioning right to ensure users have a seamless experience when moving from a legacy website to www.mygov.scot. Redirecting and decommissioning is the bane of many people and is usually victim to corner cutting – resulting in wildcard redirects to the homepage.

Since our team will likely have to transition several websites in partnership with other teams over the next few years, we have decided to build something that will make life a little easier.

Why is it important to redirect legacy websites?

We redirect old/broken URLs for two reasons – to retain search value (e.g. in Google) and to benefit our users; few things are more frustrating than discovering that the page that you are trying to find in search or via a bookmark has gone missing. Broken links don’t instil trust from users or from search engines – and since search is such an important way for users to find content on any website we want to make sure that we handle transitioning legacy websites and URLs correctly.

Continue reading

Introducing beta.mygov.scot

This is a post by Peter Smith, Product Owner for alpha and beta

From today you can see the beta version of mygov.scot. This marks the start of a phase in which we will continually add content and features to the site, making use of the tools and processes we have been developing since the release of alpha. Care Information Scotland (CIS) and the Scottish Business Portal are amongst the first to work with us on content and we would like to thank them for working alongside the team on this early beta release.

mygovscot-blog-post-BETA

 

Continue reading

Alpha review: University of Stirling guest post

This is a guest post from Kathy McCabe, Stacie Lindsay and Ryan Kaye from the University of Stirling

When the University of Stirling were given the opportunity to feedback our views on mygov.scot alpha, my colleagues and I jumped at the chance – this was our opportunity to help shape a service that will put the people of Scotland at the heart of its design.
University of Stirling

Here are our thoughts, what do you think?

Continue reading

Our early thoughts on URLs

This a post by Calum Shepherd, our Head of Digital Strategy.

In the simplest terms a URL is the location of a web page that you visit in your web browser. Handily, if you ever need to visit that web page again in the future, you can use its URL to go directly to it. You may know them as web addresses, as they are presented within the browser address bar.

address-bar

URLs are important for a number of reasons. Users, bookmarks and apps such as Pocket use them to remember where pages are located. Searchers on Google, in addition to Google itself, also use them to gauge whether or not the page they are about to visit will be relevant for a given search query.

We thought about what we needed and how that would be reflected in our URLs:

  • Clean, clear and easy to understand
  • Relevant, but concise length
  • Include the task where it exists e.g. “apply-for-council-tax”, as opposed to just “council-tax”
  • Use “-” for joining words, as opposed to “_”
  • Following a parent / child structure for categorisation
  • Avoiding duplication through consistent serving

You can read more on guidance in relation to URLs on Google’s Webmaster Tools Help. If you are interested in how Google Search works, then there is a worthy read on this subject as well.  We’ll be publishing more on both search and URLs in the coming months, in the form of guidelines.

Continue reading