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

Thursday 24 November 2011

Small site, big name

It feels like ages since I built a site completely from scratch; so much recently has been about invisible enhancement, or extra-large scale work taking months to reach its conclusion. So it's been great fun to do a small and relatively quick build for the Commission on Devolution in Wales, established to review the present financial and constitutional arrangements in Wales.

In fact, it's been a complete identity package: working with Matt Budd, we generated a handful of logo suggestions, trying our best - but ultimately failing - to get away from the use of a red dragon. The Commission team picked a favourite which we then worked up into a website, Word and PowerPoint templates, business cards, etc etc. (Note the deliberate selection of a (free) Google Web Font, by the way: how's that for 'digital by default'?)

The website is a child site of the Wales Office's existing WordPress multisite setup, which we activated just over a year ago, with precisely this kind of scenario in mind. A couple of clicks, a mapped domain, and bingo - a new and independent website in a matter of moments.

Ah yes, independent. We're using the domain, set up to accommodate 'arms-length bodies, independent inquiries and other suitable temporary sites'. I still feel slightly uncomfortable with caveat-ed addresses like this: is it, or isn't it? But it's an established standard now, so we'll happily fall into line.

All of which gives us a site rejoicing in the URL:

unless you're Welsh, in which case you get:

- which, if I'm not mistaken, is the joint longest root URL in UK government, matching that of the Commissioner for Public Appointments who - guess what? - is also independent of government.

It's a single child site, running off a fairly simple but internationalised theme. The content is fully bilingual, managed - somewhat reluctantly, I must say - via the paid-for WPML plugin. As Word Up Whitehall attendees will have heard, Mr Wheatley and I are working on a multilingual plugin of our own: but it's not quite ready yet, and anyway, the Wales Office server wouldn't be ready for it either. (Long story.) I bear the scars of several WPML-based developments recently, but this one doesn't push it too hard, so it's been OK.

My thanks, as ever, to Matt for the creative work, Simon for some last-minute cake icing, and the Commission team for making this one run remarkably smoothly.

We'll have more multilingual shenanigans to come in the next couple of months... but on a completely different scale. ;)

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Andrea_R says:

    Well done - isn't multisite awesome that way? ;)

    Can't wait to see what you have drummed up for multilingual - there's definitely a big hole there.

  2. Jeremy Gould says:

    Never did like that idea. I seem to remember it was invented to justify moving sites they couldn't kill off in the "great rationalisation".