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Blog discovery: what you told us

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We wrote here last week about the plans for the GOV.UK blogs platform and how to get one.

Alongside the technical work being done by dxw, we asked Steph Gray of Helpful Technology  to talk to nine ministerial departments with blog platforms to identify the departmental user needs for blogging and how they are currently using theirs, to help guide the future development of the GOV.UK blogging service.

While it’s not intended to be mandatory in the way that the move of corporate content to Inside Government has been, the platform will hopefully offer a great option to departments looking to start new blogs or re-house existing ones.

Here’s a summary of what Steph found:

  • There are a relatively small set of blogs in operation in most departments interviewed – typically between 5-20 active bloggers per organisation, with exception of the FCO which has around 90 currently
  • Most organisations see their use of blogging continuing fairly steadily, serving a useful niche to tell softer or joined-up stories behind departmental announcements and policy, inviting contributions from external guest bloggers, and promoting engagement alongside the content on Inside Government
  • Getting good content and sustaining enthusiasm from bloggers is a challenge across government
  • Blogging tools are in use in several organisations for purposes other than classic blogging, e.g. to host content for email bulletins or rebuttals of news coverage; as afeed of public notices; or for various consultations and engagement campaigns
  • Departments handle blog management and post workflow differently, from fully devolved publishing (FCO and DH) to fully centralised (UKTI and DFID), with central digital teams managing technical aspects of the platform and approving/setting up new bloggers
  • Most departments run their blog platforms at what they feel is a low cost
  • WordPress is the dominant platform, generally using fairly mainstream configurations, though DFID and FCO curate some of their bloggers into groups/collections and at DECC, some posts are presented together under acampaign identity
  • Looking to the future, everyone interviewed could imagine moving their blogs to GOV.UK’s platform, as long as it supports the equivalent functionality and continues to provide a departmental view of blogs/posts
  • Adopting stronger GOV.UK branding/URLs would not be an obstacle
  • The prospect of being able to tag blog posts with GOV.UK policies, organisations and individuals, and potentially present a feed of recent posts alongside related content on Inside Government was seen as a big opportunity to boost readership of blogs and complement GOV.UK announcements and profiles

Thanks to the departments who took part in the interviews - we’ll keep you posted here on the developments in the platform.

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