Were you aware that the State of Victoria has the most EHQ sites in Australia? Melbourne's Bayside City Council is one of our star Victorian clients publishing great EHQ projects for over two years. Bayside's latest consultation has quickly become a fantastic example of highly 'engaged' participation. This is no coincidence given the public's interest in the topic - the redevelopment of a local park - and the beautifully simple site. The perfect combination for this fortnight's staff pick site!
Site: Your Say Bayside
Project: Elsternwick Park Master Plan
Publish Date: 07 September 2015
Tools: Forum, Quick Poll
Widgets: 2x Photo, FAQ, Key Dates, Who's Listening
What we like:
- Accessible Plans: You may think this is a no-brainer, but we want to emphasize how simple displaying plan options can be. With just two clear photos, site visitors can understand the options available.
These plans are straightforward, the pictures open quickly and there are no distractions to what the plan's propose. Often we see (master) plans in a text-heavy format or too large to be uploaded as a regular photo, so they are included for download in the document library. In both cases, it is the participant that suffers, because they have to read a lot of text or download a terribly large file to their devices, rather than just viewing the plan with one quick click.
- FAQs: Yes, the FAQs are very short in this project and could do with some more detail. But importantly, they answer all key questions. Such as: What are the options? How is the feedback used? What happened from here?
Generic FAQs are good, specific FAQs, as demonstrated in this project, are better.
- Project description: One of the most 'straight to the point' descriptions you will ever see. The context is clearly outlined and the two options available introduced though the description could do with a couple of related hyperlinks.
- Who's Listening: We've previously suggested that the 'Who's Listening' widget can also be used as a 'Contact Us' widget. Bayside did so, which provided plenty of advantages.
Namely, the project description isn't unnecessarily long with contact information (often where this type of information goes). Additionally, using the 'Who's Listening' widget means contact information is correctly formatted.
- Forum Description: This consultation is introduced nicely in the project description, and the first topic is also well explained. The pros and cons of both plan options are clearly outlined. You can tell people understand what's at stake by the high amount of comments received in just a few days.
- Quick Poll: There is nothing remarkable about the Quick Poll in particular, but check out how many votes it received. 200+ votes and counting!
For further consideration:
Project Banner: With the two development plans providing colour and imagery, it would've been worthwhile to design a catchy project specific banner.
- Truncate Description: Although we praised the project description above, the truncated description option, which would include a 'continue reading' link after 100 words, could've been a good option. Why? By limiting the writing space, everything below the description - read: the tools(!) - move up higher in the project layout. As the tools are the core elements of each project they need to be as visible as possible.
OVERALL: When we judge projects and select our Staff Picks, we go through over 100 projects published over the past fortnight and some stand out for their great display and/or engagement as was evident with this consultation. Even if you are not invested in this consultation, you know something was done right and the high degree of engagement is a testament to that. Congratulations to Bayside City Council in successfully managing this engaging consultation.
NOTE: The above is based on a visit to the site on 18 September 2015. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.