Tuesday 8 November 2011


The force is completing an impact assessment on whether to renew the BrowseAloud contract, do you have any thoughts on there is a requirement for this?
Please read the below for a fuller explanation and email website messaging with your thoughts and ideas before 24 November 2011.
Thank you.

What is BrowseAloud?

BrowseAloud is a solution that allows users to have website content read to them aloud, by moving the cursor over text.
BrowseAloud is free to download for users who have control over the voice, word pronunciations and speech highlighting.
The user downloads a free, small browser plug-in. Once the plug-in has been installed, content on this site can be spoken aloud. BrowseAloud will read every webpage on the site and can also read pdfs in Adobe Reader Version 6.0 onwards.
The Force purchases a license to enable the BrowseAloud function on it’s external website. The renewal license for the next two years has been vigorously renegotiated and the lowest price has been reached.

Some thoughts after much consultation.

BrowseAloud is perhaps a little surplus now that technologies have moved on. In the current financial climate it is a significant expense that we must review especially as we are able to provide alternative free options, which offer the same type of service. Most users with visual assistance needs tend to use a system wide solution but we cannot ignore users who may not have such systems or simply cannot afford them. We want to ensure any free alternatives offer the same functionality.
The web team concentrates its efforts on W3C standards and works towards compliance. And ensure that this is built into the conceptualisation, design, development and implementation of our sites.
There are a mix of free alternatives to BrowseAloud which perform various functions and also payment plan versions of web plug in software which do the same job as ‘BrowseAloud’ but they are all expensive (and with budgets being slashed to the extent they are) it becomes even more crucial that we get value for money and ensure the function is now relevant and still needed.
If we do not renew BrowseAloud we will be able to offer links to these other alternatives:
  • Jaws, a screen reader for Windows. A trial period demo is available.
  • Lynx, a free text only web browser for blind users with refreshable Braille displays.
  • Links, a free text only web browser for visual users with low bandwidth.
  • Opera, a visual browser with many accessibility-related features, including text zooming. A free downloadable version is available.
We have consulted:
  • The Force Equality & Diversity department
  • The Force disability group
  • The industry standard .net magazine
  • Employees of The South West School and College for the Blind
  • The students of St Loyes College.
Please email your views to website messaging by the 24 November.
Thank you

Friday 9 September 2011

Questionnaire responses.

To all those who completed the online questionnaires a big thank you.
We went through all 38 responses, 5 returned PDFs and 33 completed the online form.

Below is a summary of what we have learnt:

That most of you who visit the site do so for work related reasons.
That most of you are hardened internet users and gain access from multiple platforms usually on a broadband connection and casually browse, check the news, shop, do research, stream content and in fact do most things the internet provides except play games!
That over half of you have a social media account the most popular being Facebook and then Twitter. Other social media sites mentioned were Stumble Upon, YouTube, Flickr, Linked in and myspace. The overwhelming majority of you however would like your online contact with the Police to be through the official website.
That over half of you using mobile phones would like the websites optimized for use with the mobile phone.
The majority of you thought that the site could be trusted and is well designed but that some of the content could be refreshed and be a little more dynamic. You would also like the news stories to be ‘written for public’.
Most of you hadn’t used the accessibility drop down but that those that did thought that it was easy to use. No problems were reported of user accessibility software having problems with browsing the site.

The things you liked were:

  • ‘the graphic banners that take you to sections of the site’
  • ‘Homepage has immediate access to news items’
  • ‘Links to Local policing’
  • ‘Layout is consistent throughout the site’
  • ‘The aesthetic design is good, bright colours, modern and professional’
and one person on Twitter from Canada wrote
  • ‘DC_Police great to see you have a handle and the web site is wonderfully laid out and easy to navigate around - #jobwelldone’

The things you disliked were:

  • ‘Navigation structure not simple enough’
  • ‘Accessibility bar displays for a second as page renders & then disappears – makes page jump.’
  • ‘Information poorly arranged’
  • ‘Left-nav-pull-out often closes before a selection is made’
  • ‘There are many, many different pages within the site finding them can be difficult, the search facility isn’t particularly accurate.’

The reasons for your visit to the site were varied and in order of popularity were:

  • News
  • Local team information
  • Contact information
  • Crime figures
  • Recruitment
  • Traffic information
  • Community messaging
  • Bumblebee
  • Freedom of Information request
  • General information
  • Specialist department information

To find this information you used (in order of popularity):

  • Left-hand-navigation
  • Home page icon
  • Site search
Generally you found the information relevant but weren’t particularly in agreement when you were asked whether it was up-to-date or well written.

The new features that you’d like to see (from the list provided), in order of preference were

  • Sign up register for email news and updates
  • Login for news and local policing updates that are relevant to your postcode
  • Ability to securely access details about the progress of your crime

The new features you suggested were:

  • ‘to keep up with things like billboard, achievements of officers and movements.’
  • ‘where the Officers and PCSO have been in their duty time and why’
  • ‘Clearly marked phone numbers, Police station addresses’

The Neighbourhood policing survey results

 (from 5 members of the public, questions appeared on the PDF only)

How frequently do you visit the site?

  • A few times a year (3)
  • Daily (1)
  • Weekly (1)

Your feelings on the site were

  • I can trust (3)
  • Would talk to others about the site (2)
  • Found site to be engaging (2)
  • Well designed (1)
  • Found site to be well written (1)

What you liked

  • ‘Does what it says’
  • ‘I can contact my local team.’
  • ‘Too little content to form an opinion’
  • ‘The principle idea is good - each neighbourhood team maintains their own site. This in theory would get the most relevant information 'out there'. But for some teams the novelty has worn off and looking at some dates on news articles etc, the novelty wore off some time ago. There are however some good examples of neighbourhood sites.’

What you disliked

  • Very poor grammar, punctuation and attention to detail (in some, not all neighbourhoods). These things hugely influence the impression the user gets. This varies hugely from one neighbourhood to another. It seems that some authors type out their piece and haven't even read it.
  • ‘Poorly arranged’
  • ‘Sometimes not up to date’
  • ‘Entered my postcode EX5 2TQ for PACT meeting displayed a page with "default" (as no content ?)’

The information you were looking for when you came to this site was:

  • Contact my local team (2)
  • Find out more information about my local team (2)
  • Find out and / or report local priorities (1)

How you found the information?

  • Site navigation (2)
  • On site search (2)

Your views on the information were?

  • The information was easy to find?
    (No response) 
  • The information was relevant? 
    (3 agree, 1 neither, 1 strongly disagree)
  • The information was well written?
    (1 agree, 2 neither, 2 strongly disagree)
  • The information was up-to-date?
    (2 agree, 1 neither, 2 strongly disagree)
  • The information met my needs?
    (2 agree, 3 neither)

Online crime reporting survey results

(from 5 members of the public, questions appeared on the PDF only)

Have/would you use the site to report a non-emergency crime?

Three responded yes, and two no.

What type of crime would you be happy to report / did you report?

  • Theft (3)
  • General antisocial behavior (3)
  • Theft from motor vehicles (3)
  • Criminal damage (2)
  • Hate crime or hate incident (0)

How would you prefer the police to contact you once they received the online crime report?

The most preferred method was email, phone and then letter, face to face was next, followed by Facebook and then Twitter.

General preferred methods of contact.

In general how would you like the police to contact you?

The most preferred method was email, phone and then face to face, followed by letter, Facebook and Twitter.
(One person responded that it would depend on the reason.)

In general how would you like to contact the police?

The most preferred method was email, phone, website and then letter, face to face and lastly Facebook and Twitter.

How would you like to find out what the police are doing?

The most preferred method was website, email and then phone, face to face, YouTube Facebook and then Twitter.

The new features in order of preference that you’d like to see on our website were:

  • Access details about the progress of your crime
  • Sign up & register for email news & updates
  • Email local policing newsletter
  • Online meetings


That we need to look at:
  • The structure of the site and how certain information is targeted to its audience.
  • The accessibility widget
  • The freshness and relevancy of the content

Lessons learnt from the consultation process so far.

  • That only one short but comprehensive online form should have been produced. This should have been accessed directly through the sites top banner rather than the web teams site pages.
  • And that the one-to-one usability studies were exceedingly useful in clarifying what works and doesn’t work on the present site.

The next stage

  • Reviewing the Local policing team’s questionnaires
  • Organize discussion groups with the Local policing teams.
  • Organise meetings to discuss content with stakeholders.

Monday 4 July 2011

Consultation and usability testing

We have begun the programme of consultation and usability testing and worked with some students from St Loyes college in Exeter who very kindly gave up some of their time last month to test our sites. Our web designers used the forms listed below and monitored students usage, making notes, while the students answered the questions and completed the usability test.
The results of these tests can be viewed in the spreadsheets below.
We would like to thank St Loyes for their help and time which really does make a difference and helps us greatly to improve our future online services. Their help will enable us to incorporate their user experiences into the conceptualization, design and development process and will help to provide an enhanced user friendly experience for all future site users.
Our request for feedback from members of the public and internal staff has been very low so a more prominent link has been placed on the homepage of the website (at the top of the site in a banner advert) to hopefully generate more interest and prompt you to give us your important views and ideas.
We did have a request through our call center asking:
‘Could we please include the email address on the homepage?’
The caller did not want to complete the general enquiry form but did want to email the force but it is not good practice to show direct email addresses on your site which leaves you very much open to a significant level of spam emails. It was explained that the forms are there to try and reduce the number of spam emails, but the caller was insistent that they wanted the choice.
This feedback is really useful and will enable us to examine how we can make our processes as easy to use as possible for our users, improving our online services and giving us a better understanding of what people want and how they use the site.
We are also planning to visit our local neighbourhood teams throughout Devon and Cornwall to seek their views on their use of the site. Your local teams are responsible for adding their own localised content and we will report back with these results as soon as we have spoken with them.
If you have any views on the information you would like to see on your local policing team pages or anything else web related please feel free to post a comment and we look forward to updating you on the latest progress in our next blog.

The development and design process for the next version of the Devon & Cornwall Police Website


The digital media team is now in the process of conceptualising a new version of the force website to allow us to engage with you more effectively (and locally) and offer a more efficient and personalized service to our communities.

We would like to

  1. Integrate the Local policing (Neighbourhood) site and the main Force website.
  2. Integrate the Online Crime Reporting form with a personalized login to enable the tracking of the investigation’s progress.
  3. Introduce a home hub landing page with various user group specific doorways into the site.
    1. Report a crime / lost or found
    2. Youth
      1. Jnrspace.info
      2. Yrspace.info
    3. News
    4. Traffic incidents / road conditions
    5. Bumblebee – auction site
    6. Postcode login – to filter content local to you – news, appeals, campaigns, traffic incidents and crime figures (Facebook, Twitter)?
    7. And access to all unfiltered information the website
  4. Introduce a postcode generated personalized homepage using cookies to remember your preferences possibly incorporating shortcuts to pages selected by the user.
  5. Provide an emailed pdf newsletter of the local policing team pages.
These are just some of the ideas we have in the melting pot but first we thought we would get your thoughts on our current site to make sure we keep your favourite features whilst adding some new developments.

We have started a programme of consultation and usability testing and include links to the forms below if you would like to get involved in shaping our future online communications.

We have also created some questionnaires along with snap poll questions, which we plan to place on Facebook, our main site and some of our sub sites.

The intention of this blog is to start a conversation with the people of Devon & Cornwall about the Devon & Cornwall Police website and how we can improve it.

Please feel free to take a look at the questionnaire/s and complete, one, some or even all (!) if you have the time.

If questionnaires are not your thing please just post a comment we would love to hear about the things you like/dislike, how you access the site, where and for what reason. Tell us how the site could work better for you and if you have any ideas for new features you’d like to see. We will review all your comments with a view to including them in a specification document made available on this blog in the future (although please note we do not have a huge budget and will be using our in-house skills).

Initially we aim to post updates at least once a month and as the consultation progresses we would like to post details and jpegs of designs for your thoughts and opinion. Further down the line we would also like to include links to mini test sites and even possibly a beta site for you to try and break!

Thank you for reading our first post and please feel free to submit a reply to this post to get the conversation going as we are really looking forward to hearing your views and engaging with you.