One of my longest-running projects has been the consultation around Care and Support, and the creation of a National Care Service. It’s been a huge engagement process on many fronts, moving through numerous phases – and the website has reflected that, with frequent changes, additions and updates.
The latest enhancement went live last week – and effectively grafts Flickr-like photo functionality on top of WordPress. We’re asking people to submit photos which illustrate the issue from their perspective, with the prospect of including the best ones in the White Paper due later this year.
Now I’ll confess, I wasn’t too convinced by the idea initially. Would we get any response at all? Would the photos be any good? Would people take the issues seriously? But I’m happy to admit my instincts were wrong this time: yes, people are sending in their photos, and yes, some of them are fantastic.
The upload function is based around the TDO Mini Forms plugin: not always the easiest to work with, but it opens up all sorts of possibilities. In a perfect world we’d maybe have tried to do a really slick upload form: TDOMF relies on an iframe, with some downside in terms of usability. But it’s good enough, and it was up and running in next to no time. All submissions are moderated prior to publication: and thankfully, TDOMF makes this as easy as normal WP comments.
If you know Flickr, you’ll immediately see echoes of its design in the custom templates I’ve done – and yes, that’s entirely deliberate. Since it’s fulfilling the same basic purpose, it made sense to use the same basic presentation. We considered using Flickr itself, but didn’t feel too comfortable with its rules on ‘commercial’ groups: maybe we could have pleaded non-profit status, but it wasn’t worth spending time on. (Comment functionality is of course present on the site; but it was decided not to open comments on these pages.)
I doubt there’s a place for this in many consultations; but I’m glad we’ve been able to prove it can be done – and that there are people out there, willing to get involved. A soft engagement success story in the making, I hope.