Highlights

A collection of posts from across the life of the blog which stand out as having enduring usefulness.

What good digital consultation looks like

November 18, 2015

This popped into my timeline today, from the fabulous digital team at the Department of Health. Stephen and Susy distill down to 37 minutes the conclusions from the experiments they’ve tried and sometimes tough lessons they’ve learned from iterating their organisation’s approach to online consultation over the last few years*. It’s brilliant in its honesty, but the…

A better website brief

July 16, 2015

As someone who runs an agency offering WordPress website development, I get quite a lot of website development briefs in my inbox. Some are excellent: they give me and the team a clear sense of what’s required. Typically, they’re documents under 20 pages long which talk quite a lot about users and goals and priorities, about what’s…

The digital comms planner

September 3, 2014

At Helpful HQ we’re a big fan of tools like the Lean Canvas or our friends Comms2Point0’s Comms Planning tool (PDF). A simple plan on a page or two that sets out what you’re trying to achieve, how you’ll know if you’ll achieve it, and what you’ll do to get there is more useful than a fistful…

What holds people back?

March 6, 2014

What holds people back from using digital tools and techniques at work? Is it that they need someone to tell them what Twitter is for? Or is it that they couldn’t tweet if they wanted to: the system would block it and their boss would look disapproving. Maybe the Press Office runs a tight ship…

What do you want from me? 7 alternatives to ‘Leave a comment’

July 27, 2012

Think back to you last digital engagement project outside Facebook. What did you ask people for? Chances are, you asked for a ‘comment’. Maybe a ‘reply’. ‘Feedback’, perhaps. A handful of you might have requested a ‘submission’. That’s not necessarily wrong – all of those are valid forms of input and depending on the goals…

Beating the bounds: a starter for ten

May 8, 2012

I really enjoyed a recent post by Tim Lloyd, head of digital at BIS, applying the principles of the ancient custom of ‘beating the bounds‘ to the process of managing a government department’s digital estate: Like those dignitaries beating the bounds, I don’t think it’s about owning every part of the estate, but it is…

How to kill off a brief

November 16, 2011

It’s one thing to run a pitch, compare proposals, pick one, and turn down the others. It’s sometimes hard on the losers, but people know where they stand: they tried, they didn’t get it. But sometimes it’s not as clear cut as that. Sometimes, you’re not quite sure what you want to buy, you chat…

The Minister, the Entrepreneur and the Civil Servant: a cautionary tale

October 27, 2010

I’ve come across this little situation enough times now to make it worth a quick post here. It’s the story of the innovative SME, the minister, and the civil servant. And it’s not exactly a fairytale. The story starts well enough: an enthusiastic entrepreneur develops something clever. They think it could have a great public…