CMS Usability testing

Parliament Week website. User experience design in action.

You know that a project is going to go well when the first paragraph of your client’s brief calls for ‘focusing on key user needs and using open source platforms and technologies to deliver improved value for money.’

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Tags vs Keywords

Many of our clients use WordPress-driven websites and intranets. Tags are a core feature of WordPress. Keywords are not. But we do use them on intranets.


GovIntranet beta release 3

This release is a result of development over the past few months for two government departments and includes new content types, taxonomies and an updated look and feel.


We’ve rebuilt the WordPress theme in Bootstrap 3, so you can compile your own version of Bootstrap to get a custom look and feel. The core styling is inspired by recent changes to GOV.UK and you can customise in theme settings.

Bootstrap gives us 4 viewports and we’ve optimised for large desktop, small desktop/tablet landscape, tablet portrait and smartphone.


A new content type allowing you to add dates, times and descriptions for forthcoming events. There are templates for future and archived events, with auto-expiry of past events and option to integrate online booking forms, with autocompletion if you allow staff to login.

There’s also a new widget to spotlight forthcoming events with featured images.

Document finder

Just an idea in the last release of GovIntranet, the document finder is a new feature allowing lookup by document type and category.

Jargon buster

Also known as the glossary, this new template allows you to spell out acronyms and complex terminology.

A to Z

Some staff search, some prefer to click menus, and lots still go for an alphabetic index. The A to Z taxonomy and templates allow you to add pages to the index easily and will display intelligently on the front end.

Page templates

New templates allow for “old-style” left-hand navigation. There are also variations of left and right columns and full-width layouts.

Updated widgets

There are new and updated widgets integrating pages and events.


By switching on some options, tweaking Relevanssi settings and using our modified search autocomplete plugin, the search box gets better. Search suggestions based on live content give quick access to pages. A perfect match search goes direct to the page like an automated “I’m feeling lucky!” And contextual results help give a scent of what’s behind the click.


New layout for guides giving more room for content.

People finder

Sadly, a people finder section didn’t make it into the mix this time. I’ve started work on it and you may find remnants of code in the beta where I’ve been experimenting. Hopefully more on this soon.


For our clients and for the open source community, because we believe that making things open makes things better, we have started a help site for theme users.

Over at GovIntranetters we hope you will join in the online discussions and share your experiences with others using the theme.

It’s work in progress, but you’ll already find lots more information about the theme, tips for using it, setup and configuration guides and hopefully some friendly faces too.

Other sites

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Relevanssi WordPress plugin: intranet search comparisons

As part of the forthcoming iteration of the GovIntranet WordPress theme, I’ve been testing search results. I compared search results on 2 client intranets, each using their own content, but different search implementations.


Intranet CMS compare and contrast

I’ve been reminiscing over my time working on the Justice intranet and it got me thinking about the differences between the hoops and obstacles that I used to have to put up with compared to some of the standard issue features of using WordPress as a CMS today.