A birdseye view of County Carlow, with a river running through a greenway.

Carlow County Council joins the LocalGov Drupal family with a stunning new website

Client
Industry
Local Government
Services
LocalGov Drupal
User Experience

Customer-centric and service-orientated. That was what Carlow County Council wanted first and foremost with its new website. By combining a gorgeous design and custom development with the accessibility-driven LocalGov Drupal CMS, the latest Irish addition to the LocalGov Drupal community has achieved everything on its wishlist, and more.

Background 

In 2023, Carlow County Council decided that they needed to revamp their website. At the top of their list was the desire to provide a customer-centric and service-orientated experience. 

The council wanted the website to be innovative in its design, deployment, and appearance, and employ the latest technologies and functionality. It also needed to be flexible, scalable, and future-proofed to meet requirements without excessive ongoing development. 

By design, LocalGov Drupal is innovative and functional. It is constantly under development, so it is at the technological forefront of council websites, with new features being added all the time. It’s a flexible, scalable solution, built for councils by councils, and it ticked all the boxes that the council had on its wishlist. 

At the heart of LocalGov Drupal is extensive user research, and the platform was designed with the user in mind. Its architecture is structured in a way that makes it really easy for the user to find the information they need. 

Carlow County Council planned to build on this foundation, giving their users exactly what they wanted with a few additional features that hadn't yet been developed. These features would be added to the Irish features that had already been developed by Tipperary County Council, the first Irish council to launch a LocalGov Drupal website.

Our approach 

The Carlow County Council website is built on LocalGov Drupal, with some customised features and a bespoke design that embraced the council’s new, sleek branding and strong colour swatch. 

Design 

Our design team adhered to the UK's Government Digital Services guidelines for accessibility, maintaining a minimal approach to help the users on their journey through the website. The website was designed to meet accessibility standards of WCAG 2.1 level AA.

The robust logo was used for highlights, including in the extended footer, and lots of imagery was used throughout the website, especially in the News and Events sections. 

Carlow County Council's responsive website

Carlow County Council's website is responsive across all devices.

Development 

Carlow County Council were looking for major improvements to their content quality and therefore took the recommended approach of reviewing and rewriting the majority of their existing pages to fit in with the new site. We also migrated a large number of files and documents, such as minutes of meetings and weekly planning lists. 

The website’s structure was built around the Irish Service Catalogue. This is a centralised way of structuring the services offered by local councils, which was built by the Local Government Management Agency. 

LocalGov Drupal has an extension, which was funded by Tipperary County Council, that imports the services that a council offers from the Irish Service Catalogue. It gives councils a good launching point for their content, because it lists and imports all the services, creates a page for each of them and structures the content throughout the site. 

So essentially, the service pages are created for the council, in both English and Irish, who then just needs to edit them. This added to the quick turnaround of the project. 

Building to share 

The Irish government’s “Better Public Services, the Public Service Transformation 2030 Strategy" aims to deliver “inclusive, high quality and integrated public service provision that meets the needs, and improves the lives, of the people of Ireland”. 

The Build to Share initiative forms part of this strategy. Its goal is for the public sector to share code in order to save valuable resources like time and money. This aligns well with the thinking behind the LocalGov Drupal project – where all the features added by one council are made available for other councils to use. 

So the Irish Service Catalogue module and the LocalGov Multilingual module – which adds Irish translations that have been done by certified translators – were both funded by Tipperary County Council, but were available to Carlow County Council to use. 

In the spirit of giving back to the project, Carlow County Council funded the build for these Weekly Planning Notices extension. It is a statutory requirement that all Irish councils are legally required to publish all the information about the planning applications granted and declined each week. 

Carlow County Council funded a feature that creates a content type and list for the weekly planning notices. It also allows these notices to be posted in Irish, boosting the crucial multilingual functionality of LocalGov Drupal sites. The user is given access to the notices for each week of the year. 

The new feature gives the council an easy way to add and manage these notices, and for users to be able to filter the notices by year and week number. 

Other new features 

We also built a few custom features specific to the Carlow County Council website. 

Users who were wondering who their designated public officials were can easily access the names of their councillors and their contact details on a page created specially for them. It builds another bridge between the decision-makers and the community. 

Carlow County Council wanted a solution for council meetings – so that constituents could read up on the meetings and download minutes or agendas. 

Each of the minuted items can have separate documents. This information can be sorted by year or district, and offers users an easy and convenient way of keeping track of council decisions. 

Another custom solution was to develop a page that shows a list of jobs and closing dates. Application forms and job titles are included for easy access. There aren’t too many vacancies at any given time so there is no need for a filter at this point. 

We are hoping to start opening conversations about a LocalGov Drupal working group around a "Job Vacancies" content type. 

All councils have similar needs when publishing jobs notices, so we see no need for councils to reinvent the wheel each time. When complete, it will be another testament to LocalGov Drupal to have yet another service standardised across all councils in Ireland and the UK.

Results 

Carlow.ie was completed in 11 months – not bad for a council website with lots of content that needed to be rewritten. 

The new site boasts a beautiful design and performs optimally – GTmetrix scored it a Grade A. It also has a 100% performance score, and a structure score of 95%. This score represents how well the website is built for optimal performance. 

Its core web vitals are also excellent: 

  • LCP measures how long it takes for the largest content element (e.g. a hero image or heading text) on the page to become visible. An LCP of 1.2 seconds or less will give a good user experience. LCP: 434ms 
  • TBT tells you how much time is blocked by scripts during the page’s loading process. For a good user experience, a TBT of 150 milliseconds or less is required. Carlow.ie’s TBT is 39ms. 
  • CLS indicates how much layout shift is experienced by visitors as your page loads. A CLS score of 0.1 or less will give a good user experience. Carlow.ie’s CLS is 0.

Key numbers

A
GTmetrix
Grade
A white 100 percent surrounded by a white circle
Performance rating
on GT Metrix
A white number 11
The number of months
from start to finish

Conclusion 

The Carlow County Council project went quickly and smoothly, thanks to the efficiency of the LocalGov Drupal platform. 

The custom-built features offer the council a flexible way to showcase vacancies, present minutes of council meetings and display the county’s leaders. 

The project also resulted in the addition of the Irish Planning Notices module to the LocalGov Drupal offering, which will be of interest to any Irish councils contemplating moving over their websites.

Are you looking to create a council website that gives the users what they want?

LocalGov Drupal has been developed to do just that. Why not give us a call and see how it can service your users’ needs.