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Not all Birmingham Council websites are badly planned

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Recently it came to light that the new Birmingham council website, was 3½ years late and £2 million over budget. The story was uncovered by HelpMeInvestigate (which I will tell you about in a few days), where members of the public can ask question and collaboratively try and answer them.

But as was pointed out over at Puffbox, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The website BirminghamNewsroom.com is an example of how social media should be encouraged and used by, not just councils, but all public bodies that deal with the general public.

As Simon from Puffbox notes:

“It’s based on iCompany – a ‘premium’ theme costing $80, with only minimal customisation; and by sheer virtue of choosing WordPress, it comes with a remarkably rich feature set, not least its offering of RSS feeds (and email alerting via S2). And that’s before we get on to its integration of Twitter, Flickr, YouTube/Vodpod, etc etc.”

Social Media integration

Even though I’ve seen the website before, I never really took notice of how much social media is pushed forward. Just a little analysis; the front page is made up of four columns, ALL of them with some kind of reference to social media at the bottom. YouTube video, a Google Map, Flickr and Twitter.

From the way the website is built it looks like they understand, that people are not going to visit the website every day. That’s why they need to be where their users are. Especially if they want to live up to their projected vision: “We want the newsroom to be used by both journalists and members of the general public.” That is not going to happen if you don’t integrate social media properly, then it’s just going to be the odd journalist hanging around.

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