18 July 2017
The States of Jersey website, www.gov.je was launched 21 years ago this week.
The site was introduced in July 1996, at a time when connecting to the Internet involved plugging a modem into a telephone line and dialling an internet service provider: CompuServe or Supernet, with the once-familiar series of high-pitched tones before connecting at 28.8 kilobits per second. Even the most basic web pages took several seconds to download and display in the Netscape Navigator browser, or Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.
Gov.je has now grown in importance to become the main channel used by Islanders when they need to find information from government and for an ever-increasing number of services that can be carried out online.
Statistics showing the use of the site have been collected since August 1996 when the pages received 4,415 'hits'. In contrast, in June 2017 the gov.je site received 543 times as many – nearly 2.4m page views.
History and development of the site
The original site started life using the www.jersey.gov.uk web address and departments used @jersey.gov.uk email addresses, switching to Jersey's .je suffix four years later. The 300-page site took less than a month to build with help from the local company Supernet, and included information from 10 departments including Jersey Tourism and Heritage, with an aim to promote the Island internationally.
The site has been redesigned seven times, most recently in 2014 to optimise it for use on smartphones and tablets. Until 2006, the site was designed and developed by an in-house team of three part-time staff from the then States Computer Services Department. In 2017 the core Digital Delivery team has seven employees, responsible for ensuring that the information on States websites is easy to find, easy to read, accurate and up to date. Across departments there are a further 45 content managers and editors who, as part of their jobs, work on the 18,000 pages. Two further people are focussed on creating online forms, with several trainees due to be recruited by the forms team this summer to increase the pace of building online services.
How searching has changed
Most people now use Google or the gov.je search engine to find the information they need, rather than starting at the home page and clicking through links so the Digital Delivery team regularly review the search logs to check that people are finding what they are looking for and fine-tuning the search facility.
Web traffic has increased dramatically since inauguration, with mobile users rapidly gaining ground on desktop users over the last seven years.
Working with the public
Head of Digital Delivery Marcus Ferbrache said, "We now update the site with improvements every month, and we are keen to receive feedback from Islanders to ensure we make changes that will most benefit users. We really want to hear from people if they have a problem finding something on the site or if they encounter any incorrect or out-of-date information. People can provide feedback on the site either by clicking on the 'smiley faces' that appear at the bottom of every page, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org."
Internet Manager Geraldine Cardwell commented, "It takes a lot of hard work and effort to manage the 18,000 pages that we have on the site and I'm grateful to all of the people who have contributed to gov.je over the last 21 years."