The previous post set out the process we used to make the product. If you did, indeed, check out the prototype you’ll undoubtedly agree with us that it needs a lot of work. Hopefully you’ll also agree that something in this area is needed because councillors are the poor relations when it comes to local government software. We also know that a lot of energy goes into supporting councillors’ information needs, and that they have a broad range of IT and data literacy which is why we are trying to create something as simple as possible.
So what comes next for the product? Well, firstly both Lucy and I go back to our day jobs now but we will still have scope to ring-fence some time to drive the idea forward. Secondly, we still have some seed funding left and we are going to use that to build the front end of a beta version of the product. We’re currently working on what we think that this will look like but we think it will be much more fully-featured than it is currently.
We want to explore links the product might be able to exploit with other software on the market like LG Inform and Citizenscape (from Public-i), and use public data stores like Socrata Open Data. I’d love to think that we could utilise a number of different other things, in fact, but the core thing that has to be understood is the “user journey” – the jobs the user needs to get done, where they need them done, when they need them done, and how.
We think that the concept of branding is critical to this: one of the big things I took away from the programme was the extent to which marketing drives modern businesses and how that’s not such a bad thing as I previously thought. Our product and message must promise what it delivers and deliver on its promises: this is what distinguishes successful products from also-rans. We’ve already started looking at that and will develop it further over the next few weeks.
The project is not just the product, however. During the course of the project we didn’t just create a prototype – we also were able to have a look at what was going on with the whole open data scene generally, and a significant strand of our project was thinking about ways we can tweak existing open data repositories to make them more human-friendly. We think there’s a bit of a problem with the open data movement, in fact, and I’ll talk much more about that subject in the next post.
Next: the campaign