We’re nearing the end of 2014, and we draw ever closer to what late crooner Andy Williams liked to call “the most wonderful time of the year”. But before we don not-so-ironic jumpers and settle down in front of a glowing Christmas special or two, we’d like to share some of the exciting things that this year held for Delib.
Our most widely used product, Citizen Space, has seen various changes and improvements (hopefully they are one and the same!) over the course of the year. “What changes? What improvements?”, I hear you cry. Well…
Early in the year, we added skip logic to Citizen Space – a major expansion of the online survey functionality. Skip logic enables a respondent’s route through a survey to be conditional on the answers they give. This widened the possibilities for survey design significantly. One can create several different surveys within a single Citizen Space consultation, by asking them one or more filtering questions, and then bringing them to the appropriate section. Users have a better experience on surveys that use skip logic effectively, as they are spared the drudgery of ticking whole pages as ‘N/A’
We have also added a mapping feature to Citizen Space. Particularly valuable for consultations on questions of local planning and land use, this enables interactive maps to be embedded on the site. Users responding to a consultation on, for example, a new cycle pathway, can indicate on the map itself where they want a path to be located. Proposals for a new mixed-use development could have a plan of the site, and then map out where they would like each particular service to be located. You can check out mapping in action here.
Analysis – Improved filtering, analysis interface and charts
We understand that for our customers, being able to analyse responses is just as important as being able to create great surveys and consultations. That’s why we’ve made several improvements and additions to the analysis features in Citizen Space this year. We’ve improved the way filtering is done – so that the interface is clearer and easier to use. We’ve made it easier to navigate between questions when viewing ‘responses by question’. And we’ve added in some rather attractive charts that visualise responses to a question, which have proven very popular with our users.
We’ve made it possible to embed pdf files into the text of a consultation – on the homepage, in fact banks or in textboxes – using the text editor . With a neat icon tucked into the ‘What you see is what you get’ toolbar, users can upload a pdf, which is then incorporated into the page, in its own window – removing the need to host PDFs externally or manually create embed codes. This has been a particularly useful addition for many of our customers, who need to consult based on policy proposals in lengthy documents. Using the embed tool they can easily insert these documents straight into their consultation.
These are just a few of the most exciting new features that we’ve added in to Citizen Space this year. There have also been hundreds of little tweaks and fixes, the result of our developers’ hard work behind the scenes to make our product better and more appropriate to our customers’ needs.
Of course, Citizen Space isn’t our only product. Dialogue App and Budget Simulator also saw a busy year, going through constant iterative change and improvement.
In particular, Dialogue App saw significant improvements to its admin interface, new theming options, no limit to the number of discussions which can be run, improvements to exports and a generally enhanced user experience.
All three apps have also had great things done with them by our customers. Some of the highlights in digital democracy for us this year have been:
Transport for London consulted on a variety of issues, some of which have reached a huge total of responses. Their consultations on two new ‘Cycle Superhighways’ through central London attracted a lot of attention and well over 10,000 responses.
September saw the Scottish Independence Referendum which, whatever side of the debate you were on, was an invigorating exercise in democracy. The Scottish government is a long-time Delib customer and Citizen Space user – and its consultations on how the referendum should be run, back in 2012, as well as this year’s consultation on what the interim constitution of an independent Scotland would be were both carried out on Citizen Space.
Dialogue app powered the policy-crowdsourcing process that was behind Nick Clegg’s Northern Futures summit. Citizens contributed hundreds of ideas and comments, as part of a process of public debate and political leadership, leading up to a successful summit in September this year.
Several local authorities across the UK – Derby, Edinburgh, Inverclyde, Hull, Enfield, Waltham Forest, and East Dunbartonshire – along with one Australian (Melbourne, who’ve done a really interesting report of the consultation here) and one Canadian city (Calgary) – have all used Budget Simulator to consult on how they spend their money. You can check out the latest to open – Hull’s – here.
NHS England made innovative use of Citizen Space to conduct very large scale internal surveys, creating registration forms for everything from volunteering to webinars – making us realise that Citizen Space’s use is in no way limited to just creating surveys!
And finally, The BBC Trust held an in-depth review of all six of the BBC’s radio services – a topic which is very dear to our own hearts! – using Citizen Space in the summer.
In summary, it’s been a great year, and we hope to see you all again in 2015 for more of the same!