Simon Dickson has been blogging about online government, politics and WordPress since 2005. Some important people read it.

Friday 18 July 2008

Sneak preview of new Number10 site

Fresh from stealing the online show at the recent G8 summit, the 10 Downing Street digital comms team have given the Prime Minister's new website its first public outing, with a few sneaky screengrabs popping up on their Flickr account. It's quite a significant departure from the existing site, although if you've been following the travel-blog work I've been doing with them recently, you'll instantly recognise its evolution.

The most striking element is the prominent use of video, with a large playback window - not YouTube, FYI - occupying pride of place on the homepage. (It'll be hard to avoid comparisons with Obama's website in that respect - but with initiatives like TelegraphTV, we're all heading towards the same thing.) The team's activity on third-party sites, like Flickr and Twitter, is also brought to the fore - driven by RSS feeds from the originating sites, as I've done on the travel-blogs.

You'll note a much more streamlined navigation on the new designs - primarily because the new site has been stripped right back to its core functions, allowing the team to concentrate on the day-to-day work. The historic information remains popular, and keeps its place; but otherwise, it's a sharp focus on news and communication.

If it feels a bit bloggy, there are a couple of good reasons for that. In part, it's a recognition of the role now played by blogs in national political life. The political anoraks who are likely to visit a Downing Street site are probably spending the rest of their time on the political blogs, so it makes sense to adopt the same presentation methods. And yes, as you've probably guessed, the underlying technology is WordPress.

The new site has been designed and produced by New Media Maze, with occasional contributions from Puffbox. And of course, being WordPress-based, there's plenty of scope to take the site forward in the coming months. We're already floating ideas for new features.

The team haven't quoted a 'go live' date, but my understanding is that it's in its very final stages of development, and they aren't afraid of a 'public beta' approach. Watch that space.

Comments ( 24 )

  1. Bill says:

    That's very tasty, actually - I particularly like the iconic "10" at top right. Who needs a logo when you've got that?

  2. A vast improvement on the current one, but does it really need the 'beta'?!

  3. [...] Street is soon to be releasing a new website, looks like a big improvement.You can read their post here but in short WordPress basedMore videoStreamlined navigationno go live date as of [...]

  4. nuttycow says:

    Does it really need such a huge scary photo of Mr Brown?!

  5. Simon says:

    @nuttycow: If you find the image scary, I gotta tell you - it moves. (That's actually a big video playback window.)

  6. Looks good, but I agree about the Brown photo: it's almost painful to look at. I sometimes find myself feeling very sorry for the man but stop feeling like that when I remind myself how much he wanted, and what he did, to get the job.

    Suggest they stick to pictures of him working etc. (although none of the pics of him looking terribly bored/cut off/inward looking at conferences and meetings would be good, obviously).

    Can only hope he gets a proper holiday: no mobile, no email, no boxes - just a holiday. Fat chance - he has no idea whatsoever about what the work 'delegate' means.

    Other than that, the site looks great. Are you completely sure it didn't cost between £9.7m and £60m, Simon?

  7. Simon says:

    It's not my place to disclose the project budget; although I bet it'll appear in Hansard in due course. Suffice to say, I think it'll come as a very pleasant surprise.

  8. [...] Consultancy Puffbox reports that 10 Downing Street is getting a new [...]

  9. [...] The show stopper at WordCamp UK here in Birmingham is Simon Dickson of Puffbox. He’s just told us how he’s just built the Number 10 Downing Street site on WordPress. [...]

  10. [...] the many interesting points of view and commentaries spoken today at WordCamp UK came some attention-grabbing news from Simon Dickson in his presentation about blogging and developments in [...]

  11. [...] I won't go into too much detail about the site and its features, as Simon Dickson (who's company, Puffbox, has been involved in the development) gives a thorough overview on his blog. [...]

  12. David Brain says:

    looks great...congratulations

  13. David Yates says:

    Simon, apart from being very impressed with your presentation at Wordcamp this weekend, you really need to be congratulated for this site.

    This site sits at the centre of the establishment, while concurrently stretching the uses of WordPress from its blogging origins to such a highly visible and prestigious level.

    You have done all of us in the WordPress community a huge favour.

  14. [...] Local groups are one of a number of WordCamp UK initiatives to build a WordPress community in the light its increasingly high profile use as a general web platform, such as the next version of the Number 10 Downing Street site. [...]

  15. After I read this, popped over to see the current Number10 site...
    Blimey, isn't it horrible? There's just too much on one page. Mind you, I cant talk; my government's websites are just as bad.

  16. [...] One of the development issues raised was the growing use of WordPress as a platform rather than as a blog. Many people are now looking to WordPress as a CMS or as a framework. Notably, one of the big announcements from the weekend was that our Prime Ministers home, Number 10 Downing Street, new website is going to be 100% WordPress. [...]

  17. [...] new number 10 Downing St site is not yet live, but you can get a sneak peek on the developer Posted in Content Marketing, Knowledge Center, News, Online, Success Stories, Tech Tools, [...]

  18. [...] The site has been designed and produced by New Media Maze with contributions from Puffbox. [...]

  19. [...] on WordPress to reverse the dreadful verdict of the opinion polls and the by-elections. This is the sneak preview of the Gordon Brown [...]

  20. The number 10 site was built by New Media Maze

  21. Simon says:

    I hope it hasn't seemed like I'm claiming any of the credit for the work, Maze guys: every reference to the new site has included an explicit statement that my involvement has been occasional and advisory.

  22. "The number 10 site was built by New Media Maze"

    Hmm - I'd keep quiet about that if I were you.

  23. [...] theme, and have integrated Flickr, YouTube and Twitter into the side-bar.   More information from here and here. If you thought that a blog was ‘just a blog’, think [...]

  24. Using WordPress is a good thing; using WordPress with sloppy code and launching such a presitgious website as a “Beta” is another. Given the reported 6 figure budget there is no excuse for this. The Government has very comprehensive guidelines on standards on its own websites. Have the developers not read them? See: