Tuesday 18 December 2012

The design principles for Devon & Cornwall Police online presence

This is the latest version of the Digital media team's online design principles and I wish to thank all those web teams who uploaded theirs to the internet. I hope ours are as helpful as yours were to us to all those that are now embarking on this thought provoking task.

Please note these may change especially if we start to get meaningful feedback!

Fulfilling Needs

  • The Force website needs to provide concise, relevant information that is easy to find and is accessible. User will not visit the Force site unless they actually need something. We are a public service and therefore when the public do visit we need to provide a professional and friendly environment that is clearly sign-posted so that they can find what need easily.


  • Professional, trustworthy, intelligent, considerate, informative, transparent.
  • All the services that the site provides, for example Online Crime Reporting, must be user friendly, intelligent and objective. 
  • Any apps the Force provide must have a purpose and provide a positive benefit to the user; they must also link back to the main Force website.

Working Smart

  • The ‘Create once, publish everywhere’ content model will be used. 
  • Editors will be well trained:
    • They will understand the site’s basic accessibility standard. For example they will add  alt (alternative) tags on pictures to provide descriptions for visually impaired users with screen readers.
    • They will understand the process of tagging content so that it can be used to provide improved useability and better searching. 
  • Content will be logically categorised with the user in mind, for example, force terminology will not be used unless absolutely necessary - for the public, 'specialist operations' does not obviously translate as a place to find information on the dog team.

Working Together

  • The Force website and applications will provide a wide range of information and services that users can find the majority of the information they will need without having to contact the call centre. This will enable the Force to concentrate more resources on the core business of protecting the vulnerable and catching criminals


  • The site will offer support to our partners by linking through to their material so that our visitors can find relevant and timely information.
  • We will provide our partners with location-tagged data feeds so that they have the option of displaying news specific to their area via their own website.
  • We will support our partners by promoting specific watch schemes such as neighbourhood watch.

Plain speaking language good design

The aim of the site is to communicate with no distractions; consequently it is really important that the site is designed with content in mind.
  • Promotional banners should not be given higher prominence than the content that brought the user to the page in the first place.
  • All users will be trained to write in 'layman's terms' and avoid jargon.
  • The use and placement of keywords will improve readability and assist with categoristation.
  • Thought will be given to all text throughout the site, regardless if it is a headline, main text or the labeling of a button, to make the site clear and easy to use.

Robust but flexible

  • It is essential that throughout the design and development stage we ensure we 'test and test again'. Time to do this will be built in and will involve members of the public where possible and appropriate.
  • Although difficult to predict, we will try and ensure the site is as future-proof as possible to allow for the incorporation of new needs, developments and technologies as they arise.

Intuitive (Don’t make me think!)

  • The site will use a consistent approach to the interface design so that the user always knows what is expected of them if they need to perform a particular action. Where icons are used, these will, again, always be consistent so that they cause the same resulting action. Consistency throughout the site will evoke familiarity.

Be open, be transparent

  • By being open and transparent and displaying more Force facts and figures, inconsistencies can be picked up more quickly in any data that is published. These inconsistencies could point to failing in the Force data recording systems that are in place. Consequently, an apology, review and correction would take place faster than if the information wasn't made available for public scrutiny.

The aim is that our online presence will contribute towards achieving the Force's vision ‘to be the best rural, coastal and urban police service in England’.

Google analytics: Devon and Cornwall Police

01 December 2012 – 31 December 2012 results.

  • The number of people who visited this site: 48,344
  • Page views: 187,969
  • Page visits: 2.49
  • Avg. Visit Duration: 00:01:38
  • New Visitors: 38,890 (51.52%)
  • Returning Visitors: 36,601 (48.48%)
Top 10 search words from site search
  1. firearms
  2. vacancies
  3. jobs
  4. lost property
  5. transferees
  6. recruitment
  7. transferee
  8. vacancies
  9. helicopter
  10. jobs
Top 10 search words from site engines
  1. devon and cornwall police
  2. helicopter
  3. arsenal logo
  4.  road watch
  5.  traffic watch
  6. bumblebee auction
  7. police
  8. devon travel news
  9.   drink driving
Performance – how long they stayed
Visit duration        0 – 10 seconds        56,786 visits
  • Visit duration        11 – 30 seconds          8,741 visits
  • Visit duration        31 – 60 seconds          8,105 visits
  • Visit duration        61 – 180 seconds          12,026 visits
  • Visit duration        181 – 600 seconds          7,915 visits
  • Visit duration        601 – 1800 seconds      3,993 visits
  • Visit duration        1801 +seconds             658 visits
25,826 out of 98,224 visitors were using a mobile phone to access site.
A list of the mobile devices used.
  • Apple iphone
  • Apple ipad
  • Not set
  • Samsung GT-I9100 Galaxy S II
  • Samsung GT-19300 Galaxy S3
  • Apple iPod
  • Samsung GT-S5830 Galaxy Ace
  • Google Nexus 7
  • HTC A510 Wildfire S
  • Samsung GT-GT-S5830i Galaxy S
Internet explorer – 36.14%
  • 9.0 – 46.59%
  • 8.0 – 31.14%
  • 7.0 – 17.94%
  • 6.0 – 2.80%
  • 10.0 – 1.54%
Other browsers
  • Safari – 31.02%
  • Chrome – 15.11
  • Safari (in-app) - 9.39
  • Firefox – 8.96%
  • Android Browser – 7.95%
  • Opera - 0.55%
  • IE with Chrome Frame – 0.28%
  • Mozilla compatible agent – 0.27%
  • Opera mini – 0.18%

November web statistics for the Devon and Cornwall Force websites.
October web statistics for the Devon and Cornwall Force websites.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Google analytics summary PDF reports

September web statistics for the Devon and Cornwall Force.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Google Analytics summary example

We thought we'd share the results form Google Analytics so that you can see the type of information that we are collecting.

All the results below are for dates 11 August 2012 – 10 September 2012.


  • Unique visitors:     45,014
  • Page views:         186,138
  • Page visits:         2.73
  • Avg. Visit Duration: 00:01:50
  • New Visitors:        39,066 (57.37%)
  • Returning Visitors:    29,031 (42.63%)

Top 10 search words from site search

  1. Firearms
  2. Recruitment
  3. Jobs
  4. Lost property
  5. Vacancies
  6. Shotgun
  7. Helicopter
  8. Data protection
  9. Transferees
  10. bodmin

Top 10 search words from site engines

  1. devon and cornwall police
  2. helicopter
  3. bumblebee auctions
  4. police
  5. devon & cornwall police
  6. bumblebee auction
  7. police cadets
  8. torquay police station
  9. charles cross
  10. devon cornwall police

Performance – how long they stayed

  1. Visit duration        0 – 10 seconds        35,536 visits
  2. Visit duration        11 – 30 seconds          6,742 visits
  3. Visit duration        31 – 60 seconds          6,385 visits
  4. Visit duration        61 – 180 seconds          9,926 visits
  5. Visit duration        181 – 600 seconds          6,345 visits
  6. Visit duration        601 – 1800 seconds      2,780 visits
  7. Visit duration        1801 +seconds             383 visits


18,775 out of 68,097 visitors were using a mobile phone to access site.

A list of the mobile devices used.

  • Apple iphone
  • Apple ipad
  • Not se
  • SonyEricsson LT15i Xperia Arc
  • Samsung GT-I9100 Galaxy S II
  • Apple iPod Touch
  • Samsung GT-S5830 Galaxy Ace
  • HTC Wildfire S
  • Samsung GT-I9000 Galaxy S
  • SonyEricsson LT26i Xperia Arc HD


Internet explorer – 42.08%

  • 9.0 – 49.95%
  • 8.0 – 31.20%
  • 7.0 – 19.86%
  •  6.0 – 3.93%
  • 10.0 – 0.07%

Other browsers

  • Safari – 20.17%
  • Chrome – 14.49
  • Firefox – 9.54%
  • Android Browser – 6.71%
  • Safari (in app) – 3.40%
  • Mozilla compatible agent – 2.80%
  • Opera – 0.44%
  • Opera mini – 0.12%
  • IE with Chrome Frame – 0.11%

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Results of the online website questionnaire

Key Findings

  • Awareness of the Devon and Cornwall Police website is generally good
  • The people surveyed welcomed the internet as a tool for receiving information from Devon and Cornwall Police but don’t want to use the internet for reporting crime. If Devon and Cornwall Police want to encourage online crime reporting, a lot of work will have to be done to promote its use and help make people feel confident about using it
  • Consideration should be given to how people are accessing the website, for example, via mobile devices
  • Use of Devon and Cornwall Police social networking sites is low, particularly given the number of respondents that said they use social networking sites. However, it was felt that Facebook  is a good way of communicating with people about policing in their local area
  • Additional, specific research needs to be undertaken into the usefulness and relevance of the young people’s websites amongst relevant age groups
  • There was generally a feeling of indifference toward the website and mixed views were expressed in free text responses
  • In general, the development of the Devon and Cornwall Police website is not seen as a priority for the Force

Detailed findings

In April 2012, Devon and Cornwall Police conducted an online survey regarding their website, a total of 535 surveys were completed. Over 80% (80.4%) of people who responded were more than 45 years of age which means the younger age groups were under-represented. This should be taken into account when interpreting the survey results. Another consideration when interpreting the survey results is that a message about the survey was sent to residents signed up to community messaging.
There is no way of measuring how many people took part in the survey as a result of community messaging but it is clear from the freetext comments that many people did take part as a result of this communication. Respondents signed up to community messaging are unlikely to be representative of members of the general public as they have additional access to information about Devon and Cornwall Police and demonstrate a more active interest in policing than the average person.

General use of the internet

The vast majority of respondents said they used the internet daily (91.7%); email (97.4%), general browsing (79.5%), information/advice (75.4%), online shopping (75.2%), research (74.7), and news (64.5%) were the most popular reasons why people used the internet.
Four out of ten respondents stated that they used social networking sites; Facebook (56.8%), YouTube (31.7%) and twitter (18.8%) were reported as the most popular. 
The majority of people use home computers (85.7%). Personal laptops (32.5%), and work computer/ laptop (28.2%) were also popular methods of  accessing the internet. It is also important to highlight that mobile internet use is also reasonably high with 19.9% using a smart phone, 17.7% using a mobile phone and 10.9% using a tablet device.  This should be taken into account when considering the future development the Devon and Cornwall Police website.

Use of the Devon and Cornwall Police website

Over a quarter of respondents (27.2%, 140 respondents) stated that they had not used the website in the past 12 months. A lot of the free text comments also referred to the fact that people were not aware of the Devon and Cornwall Police website. However, almost three quarters of respondents  had used the website. This may be a reflection of the demographics of the respondents as the people surveyed were likely to be more interested in policing than the average person. It also suggests that the profile of the website amongst those registered for community messaging could be raised. 
11.2% of people (59) had used the website to make contact with the police, the most popular use was to request contact with the Local Policing team (44.6%,  25 respondents).
Although most people said they were able to make contact easily (72.9%,  46 respondents), 63. 8% were able to make contact quickly (37 respondents), and 69% (40 respondents) thought instructions were clear, at least a quarter of respondents did not agree with these statements which suggests that improvements can be made.
The most popular sections of the website were local policing teams (43%), contact details (42.5%), general advice/information (37.6%), community messaging (35.2%), crime statistics (32%) and news/police appeals (30.4%).
Importantly, 71.6% of respondents felt the information on the site could be trusted.  
64.9 % felt they were able to find all the information they wanted, 63.2% felt information on the website was easy to understand,  56.8% thought it was easy to find what they needed, 50.3% felt confident the information was up to date, 53.4 % felt it was suitable to be used by people of all ages and 46.5% felt the website was well designed. However, a large percentage of people did not agree with these statements suggesting that improvements can be made. However, it is important to note that free text comments suggest that respondents do not consider the website a priority for Devon and Cornwall Police.
The ability to register for local policing newsletters (76.9%), news  and updates by email (75.3%) and track the process of a crime (71.1%) are suggested new website features which would be welcomed, online meetings proved far less popular with only 23% (101 respondents) saying that they would use this feature. Again the age demographics of the respondents may have an impact on the results so this needs to be taken into account when deciding the features to be progressed.
Only 3.7 % of respondents (18) reported problems accessing the website, it needs to be decided whether this is an acceptable figure.

Use of other police websites

33.3% of respondents were aware that Devon and Cornwall Police have social networking sites, of those respondents 63.4% (64 respondents) had used Devon and Cornwall Police Facebook, 51.5% (52 respondents) used Local policing team Facebook site(s), 39.6 % (40 respondents) had Devon and Cornwall Police twitter account, 28.7% (29 respondents) had used the Local policing team Twitter site(s), and only 12% (12 respondents) had visited the Devon and Cornwall YouTube Channel.
Awareness of both youth sites was low, with only 6.9% (35 respondents) aware of either of these sites. However, given the demographics of the survey respondents it is unlikely that the opinion of the target markets for the youth websites is reflected in these results. Therefore, further research is needed with appropriate age groups to determine how to improve the youth websites.


The majority of people surveyed (83.2%) wanted to be able to contact the police via the telephone (email (59.4%), face-to-face (55.6%) and at the police station (53.1%) were also popular methods. Web-based contact was generally unpopular, with only 18.3% (97 respondents) stating they wanted to make contact via the website, 8.5% (45 respondents) via Facebook and 3.6% (19 respondents) via twitter.
However using the internet as a web-based information tool was more popular,  with the vast majority of people saying they would like  to be informed about policing by email (84.3%), via  the website (23.5%) and via Facebook (18.2%).
Face-to-face contact (36.2%), newsletters (32.3%) and local meetings (26.6%) were also popular methods of being informed about local policing.
Performance & Analysis Dept June 2012

A big thank you to all those who took the time to complete this questionnaire.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Cookies - what we have done and why it may change.

The regulations

Regulations changed on the use of Cookies last year and came into force on the 26 May 2012. All websites are now legally required to give the visitor a clear and easy to use opt out of all non-essential site Cookies, including analytical software. Or that’s how the web team thought the enforcer (the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office)) had interpreted the new cookie law.
"A cookie is a small file, typically of letters and numbers, downloaded on to a device when the user accesses certain websites. Cookies are then sent back to originating website on each subsequent visit. Cookies are useful because they allow a website to recognise a user’s device. The Regulations apply to cookies and also to similar technologies for storing information. This could include, for example, Local Shared Objects."
Page 3 para 2 from ICO’s (Information Commissioner’s Office) Guidance on the rules on use of cookies and similar technologies version 3
For more information on cookies see: http://www.allaboutcookies.org/
However, since we uploaded our solution the regulations have changed slightly and the ICO guidance says
“The use of cookies and similar technologies has for some time been commonplace and cookies in particular are important in the provision of many online services. Using such technologies is not, therefore, prohibited by the Regulations but they do require that people are told about cookies and given the choice as to which of their online activities are monitored in this way.”
Page 3 para 3 from ICO’s (Information Commissioner’s Office) Guidance on the rules on use of cookies and similar technologies version 3

Our Approach

The approach we took was to create a Cookie page and to provide check boxes next to items that used cookies if the visitor wanted to opt out, and for Google Analytics we placed a popup window at the top of our site and asked a very direct question.
“Do you consent to receiving Google Analytics cookies? We use these to aid in improving and maintaining our website."
We also placed a 'More Info' and then two buttons 'Yes' or 'No'.
By doing this we complied fully with the law and as we had done it well within the time frame, we patted ourselves on the back

The Problem

However, the majority of you have selected 'No' and so since the 2 May 2012 our visitor overview from Google Analytic looks like this…
As you can see from the graph on the 17 April we reached just over 6,000 visitors and then on the 2 May 2012 we were down to just 105. As we average just over 2,000 a day we know that the chances are that more of you actually did visit the site that day but Google Analytic isn’t showing it because many of you have selected the "No" button.

The question

Does the web team leave alone as we are clearly now compliant or do we tweak and let you know that the site uses cookies but clearly explain what they do before giving you the option to opt out?

We seriously do need a more accurate guide of how many of you are visiting our site and we promise the information that Google provides can not tell us who you are or any more information about you.

Evidence to support a change


The ICO (the enforcer of the new law) says…
“It has been suggested that the fact that a visitor has arrived at a webpage should be sufficient evidence that they consent to cookies being set or information being accessed on their device. The key here is that the visitor should understand that this is the case. It is important to note that it would be extremely difficult to demonstrate compliance simply by showing that a user visited a particular site or was served a particular advertisement unless it could also be demonstrated that they were aware this would result in cookies being set. (p8 of the Guidance).
and what they have done on their website is, as we have, a popup top banner, that says:
"The ICO would like to place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better. To find out more about the cookies, see our privacy notice."
They also have a check box 'I accept cookies from this site.' and then a 'Continue' button.
This is informing visitors that the ICO site uses cookies and that by continuing to use the site you consent to these being set. The visitor is asked to accept the cookies. If the visitor does nothing the box remains and they can continue using the site without it appearing to have an ill effect on site performance. There is no indication that cookies will be ‘turned off’ until acceptance is received. If the user visits the ‘privacy notice’ page a table displays the cookies the site uses and links are provided to the third party sites to find out more, but no ‘turn these cookies off’ button is provided.

Perhaps we (the Force web team) have made it too easy and we should have explained further before offering the opt out Button.

.net magazine

.net magazine issue 229 on p64 in their article titled Don't Panic, A beginners Guide to Cookies explains the levels of compliance as...
Here’s a simple breakdown of how to go about categorising cookies:
Zero compliance risk or ‘strictly necessary’ cookies Always first-party and not persistent. These include functional navigation and user session cookies for shopping baskets.
Low compliance risk Always first-party and may be persistent. These cookies include accessibility options for visually impaired users and, arguably, analytics cookies. Medium compliance risk Usually first-party and persistent. These might be used to store personally identifiable information, or limited cross-site tracking, in order to present content based on previous visits. Another good example is the Facebook Like button.
High compliance risk Third-party and persistent. These are mainly used to track and record visitor interests without prior consent, and aggregate this data for use by third-parties, normally advertisers. This also includes cookies set through the provision of embedded content which is not ad-related, such as Google Maps and YouTube videos.
And again, as we look at what the BBC have done, the web team really is convinced that we need to make a change.


The BBC also use a popup http://www.bbc.co.uk/ and theirs says
Cookies on the BBC website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the BBC website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings
It also has a link to 'Find out more'. The find out more page explains exactly what cookies they use and why and groups them into ‘strictly necessary’, ‘functionality’ and ‘performance’ cookies.
Their Analytics cookies set by the BBC (“iStats”) are grouped under Performance and an opt out is provided http://www.bbc.co.uk/privacy/cookies/managing/cookie-settings.html on this page once all has been fully explained.

The web teams Conclusion

In conclusion, the web team propose that rather than ask the visitor whether they want the Google Analytic cookie, that the pop up informs the visitor that we use it and gives them the option as the BBC site does to ‘continue’ or ‘find out more’. The ‘find out more’ link will take the visitor to the Force cookie page. From here the visitor will be able to switch Google Analytics off if they still want to.

Hopefully not so many of you will opt out and we will once again be able to use our stats to inform us how many visitors the site gets and which pages are the most popular. More importantly we will still be compliant of the law.

In order to do this we will be resetting the Google Analytic cookie. And so if you opted out last time, we hope that this time you will understand why we wish you not do so and you will (with your new understanding) give us your Implied consent, in the full knowledge that if you change your mind you know how to explicitly opt out.

The web team thanks you for your patience and understanding. All other opt out cookie options will remain as they are.

Next time…

Results of the online website questionnaire.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Response to online survey

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to complete the questionnaire about our website. Over 500 people have responded, providing us with some really good feedback.
The information is vital to help us re-design the Force website and we will be publishing a summary of the findings from your responses shortly.

Tuesday 31 January 2012

Neighbourhood policing teams consulted

Consultation is continuing about the re-design of our website and the most recent part involved local policing teams.
The digital media team questioned them about how online communication and social media features within their roles and the neighbourhood policing websites.
These results will help the consultation process considerably and we feel several areas were particularly interesting:

Local policing teams and how they engage with their communities

An overwhelming number stated that the way they preferred to engage with their communities is face-to-face or via the telephone, ensuring a personal connection is made.  However many understand the importance of websites, email and social media to keep in touch with their communities and use it on a day-day basis alongside making personal contact.

Content of neighbourhood policing websites

Neighbourhood policing teams actively promote their neighbourhood sites in their communities.  They feel the information they include about contacting their local policing team, neighbourhood priorities and local meetings is relevant and appropriate for their communities and is included on their web pages.
Just over half (54%) of officers said their communities have reported crimes on line and antisocial behaviour is the main type of crime reported on line.

Social media

While some local policing teams are actively engaging social media, (Facebook being the most popular), others are a little more reluctant and felt that for their communities this wasn’t the best way of reaching them. 

How can local policing teams improve their website?

Local policing teams were asked to decide whether the ideas we had come up with to improve local policing sites would be useful to them. One suggestion of a list of non-policing priorities and who to contact to resolve them, for example, if there is an issue with dog fouling and local council contact numbers would be extremely useful. This will certainly be considered.
The consultation with this group has been very useful and allows the digital media team to understand firsthand how/what they use their websites for and this can only inform our re-design of the website.

The next step

The next stage in the process is to visit schools and look at the websites aimed at younger people – jnrspace.info (aimed at 6-10 years) and yrspace.info (aimed at 12-17 years).  Not only will we understand how these sites are used by young people but also how they are being accessed and where - at home or in schools.
If you have used the sites above please email us your thoughts on how we could improve the site.