The Growth Network website

Screenshot: Growth Network websiteThe Growth Network website for Lincolnshire County Council.

The Growth Network website was developed following changes to responsibility for reporting on the delivery of large scale housing growth and major regeneration projects in England and Wales within the UK.

Background

Until recently, all local authorities were responsible for reporting progress on certain growth targets to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). This was done via a protected website developed by us in 2009. As well as the local authorities, this site was used by various central government departments and organisations to comment and report on the progress and development of various Growth Points (as they were known) throughout the UK. However, within the last 12-18 months DCLG has withdrawn from the central coordinating role. As a result, the local authorities themselves have stepped in to continue the process of coordination and cooperation. Lincolnshire County Council has taken the lead in taking over the management of the protected website and asked us to develop a new public-facing site to act as an on-line resource to support networking and other activities for local authorities and their partners who are taking an active role in developing growth.

Design and development

The aim of the website design was to produce something easily accessible that reflected the planning work undertaken by those involved in delivering growth. The site was designed to be both easy to maintain and to encourage participation, both by being very clear about how to get involved and by bringing the tools for cooperation right up to the front of the site. As such, the homepage contains an overview of the aims of the Growth Network and how to get involved. It also contains information about recent events and relevant news, the latest topics under discussion by the group, and some example case studies (currently just Cranbook in Devon). The site typography is a combination of PT Sans Regular and uppercase Gill Sans for the body text and headings. Images are only used to highlight the specific areas of the site and as part of specific case studies.

The site uses the WordPress content management system – chosen because of its flexibility, ease of use, and increasing uptake within government in the UK. The site also incorporates the buddyPress forum plugin, which is used for the Topics section. The intention is that the site can act as starting point for further development as the requirements of those involved in the informal Growth Network develop. As part of the project, the existing protected website was also updated with the new branding.

Technical details

The site is hosted by Netfundi on a linux debian server, running the latest version of WordPress, with the buddyPress plugin. The site uses a custom built WordPress theme. All design is HTML/CSS based. Javascript is used to enhance some of the site functionality. All additional development work was undertaken in PHP.