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Apr 4

New features feature

Admin for Worldwide locations and organisations has been tidied up and is looking better than ever.

Which is cool but not as cool as the fact that you can now feature translations independently of their English equivalent on location landing pages.

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This means that on occasions when what is most important for an overseas office to communicate to English speaking users is different to users speaking the local language need to know, then the prominent featured slots can customised to help.

Sometimes that might be a stark difference where all the slots are different, or it might just be one feature of difference.

See if you can spot the difference between https://www.gov.uk/government/world/china and https://www.gov.uk/government/world/china.zh  

Apr 4

Access and opening hours for Worldwide offices

The UK government has hundreds of overseas ‘posts’. An organisation may have a number of offices spread across a country or even many offices within a single complex. Some of these may be in straightforward urban areas, while others can be way out ‘in the field’.

Unique and ubiquitous 

In each case, the office will have a set of instructions for people wishing to contact or visit that office. This can range from opening hours and availability during public holidays to temporary closure notices due to civil unrest and guidance concerning carrying weapons on site.

As the overseas organisations began uploading content to GOV.UK, we were finding that they were packing these instructions into fields not designed for the purpose of carrying lots of text.

So we have been exploring how to deal with both repetition and specialisation better while providing this instruction alongside the specific addresses, numbers and other details for these offices in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the user. After all, in most cases those users will simply want a note of a number or email address and never want to physically turn up at an office.  

Defaults and customisation

We have used the contact details of UK-based offices as the basis and added a feature to allow publishers to add either a default set of instructions for all offices in a location or customise a set for an individual office. 

1. Creating the default

To create the default in admin:

  • Select Worldwide organisations > select organisation > select ‘access and opening times’ tab

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  • Select ‘Add default access information’ which provides a free text, markdown field to create a page of instructions, applied to your primary office and automatically to all other offices for that org. These can be edited at any time.

2. Customising the default

Each office can have customised instructions, which can be created using the following steps:

  • Select Worldwide organisations > select organisation > select ‘offices’ tab > click on ‘customise access info’ next to the office you want

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  • Again there is a free text, markdown field but this time it is pre-populated with the default details as a guide. This can be overwritten or tweaked to reflect local circumstances to create a page of instructions applied to that specific office. This information can be edited at any time.

A link to the page of instructions appears under each contact on the organisation profile page.

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The page itself repeats the contact details as well as the instructions. The use of H2s creates a left-hand nav.

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Replaces corporate information page

We had tried a version of this using a corporate information page called ‘Office access and opening times’ on Worldwide. But given the variation in instructions, a single page was becoming unwieldy. 

These new contact-specific pages do away with the need of that corporate information page and we have migrated the data on any existing pages over to the new default. We will phase out the old page once everyone is comfortable with the new approach and has set up their customisations.

Next up

The pages need a bit of styling and we also have further work to expose this information in the API but this is a far better way of making contact information easy to use and reuse.

As ever users will let us know how successful the approach is and we will optimise base don that feedback.

More features on Worldwide

As Worldwide nears launch, here’s a rundown of features delivered in the two most recent sprints:

Local news for local people

FCO will publish content on Worldwide that it sees as being of very local interest.

In an effort to reduce the noise on the main department sites we have introduced a new document type called ‘World location news story’. These news stories will only appear on those locations associated to that document and will not appear on the news stream of the parent organisation. 

For example, the embassy in Madrid could produce a news story about a seminar in the Barcelona consulate for Spanish businesses wanting to trade with the UK without that having to appear in the main news stream for the FCO.

The availability of this document type, with its particular behaviours, paves the way for the creation of content with 1) no English version and 2) featuring of translated content independently of its English edition. Two features dear to FCO’s heart.

Worldwide priority and associates 

Priorities explain what each HMG org does in a location and why. News stories, speeches and case studies can now be associated to the priorities to illustrate how they are being delivered.

Associated content items will appear in a ‘Latest’ tab on the Priority page.

There are going to be a lot of priorities, so a keyword search is available in the priority selection field in the admin.  

Translate people

You can now translate biographies into the languages available on Worldwide, which now also include Welsh and Latin American Spanish. 

Indexes of translated content 

We are heading toward incorporation of multi-lingual content in the overall indexes of announcements and publications, but for now we are providing ‘stand-alone’ indexes of translated content for individual locations by type. 

So clicking on ‘Ver toda nuestra anuncios’ on the Español homepage for Spain will present a list of all announcements for Spain in Spanish. Likewise for Belarusian announcements on the беларуская Belarus homepage, and so on.

Case studies can be featured

DFID produces a lot of case studies to explain the impact of its funding and research on communities and individuals in locations where they are active. These colourful and compelling stories can now be featured on location homepages.

Case studies can also be translated.

API for office contact details

To inform a number of consular services provided on the mainstream section of GOV.UK (like travel advice and the embassy finder), we now provide a details of overseas HMG offices in our API. 

The API offers:

a) list of locations with name, slug, class, iso2, akas

b) the type of office (eg. embassy, high commission etc)

c) for a particular location, list of offices comprising: 1)sponsoring organisation (eg FCO, DFID or UKTI) and 2) a list of contacts comprising title, address, phone(s), email, contact form url, instructions of use and list of services provided.

Транслатинг Worldwide

If the Worldwide section of Inside Government is to effectively explain the UK government’s structure and activities overseas, it is going to have to be available in languages other than English.

In 2012, for example, 59% of page views on the FCO’s China site were on Chinese language pages, 59% of views on its Brazil site were on Portuguese pages and 34% of views on the Spain site were on Spanish pages. 

Forty plus languages

We will be launching Worldwide with the ability to translate into 44 languages, including Arabic, Russian and even French.

FCO has been publishing online in these 40+ languages over the last few years, but if something changes and we need to add to the list we can. 

Multi-lingual editions

In this first release, location home pages, organisation profiles, priorities, news stories, speeches and staff bios will all be translatable by FCO’s network of publishers in locations around the globe. 

Each content item can be [manually] translated into multiple language editions; so a news story published by the British Consulate-General in Los Angeles can be translated into Spanish, or Arabic for that matter. 

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Page furniture too

The language options for a content item will be displayed to the user at the top of each page.

The page labels, dates and times will all be translated in time. And, as users navigate through the site, the locale will be retained so long as there is translated content available. 

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Ways to go

With the help of the development talents in Go Free Range, we have managed to produce a solid first iteration of a multi-lingual Inside Government in just a few weeks.

There’s still some work to do before release but we’re really pleased with it so far. Iterations will quickly following after the first release, things that we plan to do and that we’ll discover that we haven’t thought of yet.

So watch this space, and as ever we are open to ideas.

Be the change you wish to see in the world

Lately, publishers may have noticed a distinctly international flavour to the features in the Whitehall app. If you aren’t DFID, FCO or UKTI, you may be wondering what’s afoot.

Welcome to ‘Worldwide’

We will soon release a section of Inside Government called ‘Worldwide’, which those organisations with an overseas presence will use to publish information about their structure and activities in locations around the globe. The pages of Worldwide will replace the existing location sites of DFID, FCO and UKTI.

You may recall a version of the Worldwide section in our beta.

The Worldwide ‘model’

The ‘Worldwide locations’ will consist of countries, overseas territories and missions to international organisations. ‘Worldwide locations’ will be managed by of a number of ‘Worldwide organisations’, which are the representations of HMG organisations in those places, such as the British embassy in Madrid or DFID Afghanistan. 

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The organisations will share a homepage but each will have their own profile page, which will explain their individual missions, structures and from where users will be able to access staff biographies and contact information.

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Local interest content

It has long been possible to publish content on Inside Government and associate that to overseas locations. With the launch of Worldwide the amount of content uniquely about particular locations will greatly increase and be produced and curated from within those locations. This content will initially consist of news stories, speeches, case studies and a new document type called a ‘Worldwide priority’.

Clear Priorities

'Worldwide priorities' will explain what each organisation is doing in a location and why.

Like policies, these will have a consistent structure and be action-orientated. Organisations will associate Worldwide content to these priorities and use them as an anchor in much the same way as policies are used on Inside Government. Indeed, priorities will mostly in turn be associated to policies and be illustrative of the implementation of those policies overseas.

Preparation and feedback

Although we had the benefit of the beta, the delivery of Worldwide has taken place in super-quick time, thanks to the herculean efforts of Inside Government’s developers and designers.

Now DFID, FCO and UKTI are testing and preparing Worldwide for its release. Feature iterations are still taking place and there is nothing to stop the curious amongst any of the Whitehall publishers playing with Worldwide on Preview. We’d welcome any feedback you have.

Work has begun on dusting off and resurecting the Worldwide section of Inside Government - the bit where we set out what the UK government is thinking, doing and saying overseas, combining info from FCO about our ambassadorial presence with that about trade, development, defence and more from other organisations.
This screenshot shows an html prototype of the index page, reusing the patterns we have established on the list of organisations. 

Work has begun on dusting off and resurecting the Worldwide section of Inside Government - the bit where we set out what the UK government is thinking, doing and saying overseas, combining info from FCO about our ambassadorial presence with that about trade, development, defence and more from other organisations.

This screenshot shows an html prototype of the index page, reusing the patterns we have established on the list of organisations