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

 
 
Thursday 10 November 2011

Foreign Office finally switches to WordPress

Earlier this week, the Foreign Office rebuilt its blogs.fco.gov.uk site. It doesn't look much different. But the screenshot above isn't the significant one. The one below is.

Yes, after some gentle encouragement on the pages of this blog, it's great to see the Foreign Office moving off the Apache Roller blogging platform - What, you've never heard of it? Exactly. - and on to the blogging platform of choice, WordPress.

Like a lot of government projects, the brief has clearly been to keep the visuals almost exactly as-was. But Steph Gray has rebuilt the site using an HTML5-based theme, deployed on a multisite setup at Bytemark (by the look of it), and has managed to migrate 50+ blogs' worth of content too.

I can see a few things we'd have done differently - notably around non-English content. But as Word Up Whitehall attendees will have heard, Simon Wheatley and I have been concentrating on precisely that subject for most of the past few months, so we're probably deeper into it than most.

And so the highest-profile blogging platform in Whitehall comes over to WordPress, joining similar efforts at DFID (launched Oct 2008), Health, DECC and BIS. Well done to Ross & co for doing the right thing. You know it makes sense. That really only leaves the MOD...

Comments ( 3 )

  1. Steph Gray says:

    Thanks Simon - as Ross mentioned on Monday, this is a project almost all about the back-end, primarily, and the fact we've been able to migrate the content is a bonus.

    I'll write up and share some aspects of the migration process as it was interesting in some ways (but mainly a PITA, as migration always is). Still, unlike the decisions made recently by organisations relaunching corporate sites in WordPress - most of whom have deliberately not migrated legacy stuff, for good reason - I always felt that losing the FCO's rich blogging heritage would be sad, even if it's still at The National Archives.

    The most exciting aspect, I'd say, is that the content is now set up in the Gray trademark simple way within a dynamic and well-structured piece of software with a strong community around it. That means that (i) we can do more to integrate and present bloggers' output in creative ways in future; and (ii) the we can involve any competent WordPress developer in the future - no lock-ins, (virtually) no learning curve.

  2. The MOD are pretty heavily into WordPress.com, with the official Royal Navy, Army, and also a joint forces Afghanistan blog… though clearly the RAF need to abandon the weird ColdFusion platform they're using and join the party.

  3. Simon says:

    True, but the Big One is the 'Defence News' site - which must be getting a bit lonely over at Typepad.