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Multiple projects, one CMS

Torfaen County Borough Council (CBC) is a unitary council in South Wales serving a population of around 90,000 residents. With a strong mining heritage, it is now a borough with a distinct mixture of urban and rural areas.

Since 2004, the council has used the Contensis content management system (CMS) for an increasing number of projects. Contensis now runs the main council website, intranet, community portal, and many others.

Torfaen CBC’s websites received good reviews when they were launched. They were one of the first councils to deliver website content to other devices, with a selection of kiosks in council building foyers from 2005 onwards.

Reviewing the market

Torfaen’s main site had become outdated and cumbersome. The options for self-service were limited, and targeting content to individual users was difficult.

To get ready for the next cycle of web development, Torfaen engaged an independent digital agency to review the CMS options across the market. The agency’s report recommended that the council should continue their development on the Contensis platform. This was because Contensis had been continuously improved, and would provide all the capabilities needed by the most demanding projects.

Contensis also received approval as the most cost effective choice. Since many of the foundation tasks would be common to both the website and intranet, they decided to address both in the same project.

"There have been a huge range of benefits to the organisation in cost, productivity, and reach. We chose the Contensis CMS to avoid expanding the web team to deal with additional capacity. That would have cost us the best part of £500k when you bring overheads to bear as well. That's a significant investment for any organisation like ours, and to have to make that on a year by year basis would have been very difficult."

Richard Edmunds, head of strategic services

A two-pronged redevelopment

We started by tackling the main council website. The initial visual design was created by Torfaen’s web team, and this was further developed with our designers before we started building.

Our professional services team were involved at all major stages in the implementation. We helped create a new information architecture in order to build a full Local Government Navigation List (LGNL) structure, which was linked to a taxonomy. Contensis made this possible with its standard capabilities: the Taxonomy Manager and Folder Synchronisation.

The Contensis Search provided a comprehensive search tool for the deep website. This also allowed the Torfaen web team to surface specific content based on most frequent search terms.

The intranet features a staff directory that’s populated from Microsoft’s Active Directory (AD) system. Users can maintain their own contact information on the intranet, which in turn feeds back into AD. This represents a huge efficiency saving for the council. We also implemented document management tools into the site, including support for English and Welsh versions.

Content for both projects was already held in the Contensis repository, so it was simply a matter of reassigning them into the new information architecture. Contensis made this easy, which is a major advantage compared to other CMS products.

The most recent development round described here happened between October 2011 and May 2012. All of the professional services needed were delivered either by our own team, or by members of the Torfaen web team. The overall budget for the two implementations was £83k, including hosting and software support.

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