I decided this week to extend my review of CMS used by local authorities to include councils in Ireland. This was prompted by Tipperary County Council being named as the first local authority in Ireland to be built using LocalGov Drupal. Their new site is due to be launched next week. I hadn’t really ever looked at council sites on the Emerald Isle before, so found it fascinating to check them out.
My immediate impression was that many sites appeared to look quite dated and in need of a refresh. Not all sites, but enough to suggest that perhaps councils could usefully take the opportunity to review the CMS that they are using and consider the potential benefits of using LocalGov Drupal.
I have added the newly reviewed Irish sites to a fresh version of Airtable covering local authority CMS in UK and Ireland.
This has resulted in Drupal being listed as the most popular CMS in the UK and Ireland. Drupal and pTools appear to be the most popular CMS for building council websites. There are a fair number though that I couldn’t identify the CMS, but I suspect that they might also have been built using pTools. If anybody can help to confirm the CMS used for the ones I couldn’t identify I would be very grateful.
I have also created a map of local authorities in Ireland.
I have been carrying out personal research into CMS used by local authorities in the UK for over 3 years. I completed my latest review in October 2022 and you can view the results on Airtable. In the past I have tried to check each site individually, but it is very labour intensive and liable to error. This year I have used WhatCMS to do the heavy lifting and fill in the gaps with a manual review and by contacting councils directly.
There hasn’t been a great deal of change in CMS used by councils over the last year. Jadu and Drupal continue to lead the pack with a number of new additions for each of these CMS. On the Drupal front increased council take up is linked to the growing popularity of LocalGov Drupal.
My next task is to update the various maps that I have created to present local government use of CMS in the UK. These can be found on my blog.
I hope you will find this research useful. If you spot any errors or want to report any changes please get in contact.
I have been reviewing CMS used in local government across the UK for the last three years. I’ve shared this personal research with the LocalGov Drupal project and more recently with Dave Briggs, who has carried out some research of his own. This reinvigorated my interest in this subject so I decided to map the CMS used by councils to better understand the geographical spread. To date I have done this for English local authorities, but I’d like to extend it to all UK local authorities if I can find Wales and Scotland authorities in a mapping format (ideally KML).
When I started using web content management systems twenty years ago the majority of councils used proprietary or licensed software. The use of open source was quite marginal and dare I say seemed an option of last resort. I certainly would not have been brave enough in those days to use an open source CMS. How things have changed! Now more and more councils are using open source, the two main ones being Drupal and Umbraco. At Bracknell Forest we started using Drupal 4 years ago and have not looked back. The absence of licensing costs means that any budget can be focussed on developing new functionality and improving customer experience.
When I started using Drupal I could see the opportunities of working with other councils to develop a shared local gov Drupal distribution. Sadly at the time collaboration in local government digital was in its infancy and noone seemed that interested in exploring the opportunities. That all changed when Will Callaghan tweeted about councils working to together to build websites, rather than constantly reinventing the wheel. Will’s efforts and persistence resulted in funding from the MHCLG to make LocalGov Drupal a reality. The growth has been phenomenal (due in most part to the boundless enthusiasm of Will Callaghan, Finn Lewis and countless others) and in the space of what seems a very short time 22 councils are now actively using or about to use LocalGov Drupal.
The map shows that a myriad of CMS are used across England. The leading proprietary CMS providers, Jadu and GOSS dominate much of the landscape. Amongst open source CMS providers, Drupal is used by more councils, but Umbraco has a wider geographical presence. It will be interesting to see how this changes over the next couple of years as LocalGov Drupal gains traction and more councils join the revolution. I don’t use that word lightly here, it is a revolution and one which will undoubtedly bring enormous benefits. The roadmap for delivering improved website functionality for councils using LocalGov Drupal is starting to take shape and it will undoubtedly transform and improve service delivery and customer experience.
I don’t think it is unfair to say that council websites have remained much the same over the last ten years. The offering has been static for too long and that has to change as people’s expectations of modern websites has risen dramatically over this period. Design wise council websites appear to be much of a muchness, with a GOV.UK influenced design attempted by many. I would like to see this change, for council websites to incorporate far greater functionality and provide a better customer experience, but also to present a sense of place to better promote and celebrate the communities and residents that they serve.
If you spot any mistakes on the map or want to suggest any updates then please do get in contact.