Review blasts Birmingham's '£2.8m' website

Some fine detective work by Nick Booth aka Podnosh, to uncover Birmingham City Council’s report into the development of its reported – but denied – £2.8m website (mentioned previously here). The executive summary’s list of recommendations makes for painful reading:

  • The new CMS ‘requires further work before it can be said to function effectively for its users.’
  • ‘There are questions over the extent to which the FatWire CMS system was customised unnecessarily.’
  • ‘The system is currently viewed as unstable by the BCC Web Team and requires remedial action.’
  • ‘More needs to be done before the Council’s stated [accessibility] policy is achieved.’
  • ‘requires a look more in keeping with the vibrant city which Birmingham is. Navigation and design could be improved as part of this process.’

All that time, all that money… and it still sounds like there are significant problems with the fundamentals. Ouch.
In the comments on Nick’s post, Will Perrin makes a daring – albeit, I’d suggest, a bit impractical – proposal:

there has to be a strategic communications and business case case for the council to cut its losses, ditch the site, write off the contrators, publish all the inevitable embarrasing internal emails and adopt BCC DIY, the subsitutue site built by volunteers in a few days reusing the council content. this would gain the council and Birmingham remarkable credit around the web as a world first and most importanly, give citizens and staff an easy to use reliable website. could probbaly be done beneth the EU tendering limit. the council leaders could speak on platforms around the world about brimingham’s crowd sourced web miracle.

But it’s not all bad news in Brum. The ultra-cheap WordPress-based site (covered here) was recognised this week at the Local Government Association’s Reputation Awards. And rightly so.