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Important Downtime Announcement to deploy the new-look Planning Portal

by on October 25, 2010

I am very excited to announce that we are on the cusp of delivering the second part of our long-awaited site upgrade.

This release will allow you to customise the Portal homepage to suit your own needs and better define the content and services you use on a regular basis.

This does mean that the Planning Portal will be unavailable from 8pm, Friday 29th October until a similar time in the evening of Sunday 31st October.

In addition, when you next access the site you will need to reconfirm your registration details, however this process shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes and we hope you’ll agree the improvements will be worth it.

Why are we doing it?

In short, to provide a better service at a cheaper cost. By making the site more relevant we hope to increase take-up and at a time of constrained marketing and communications budgets this redesign makes it easier for us to communicate with our users by sector.

Since going live in May 2002 the Planning Portal has had just one site redesign and remained on the same technical platform, despite significant changes to the content and audience and advances in web technology.

In this time the Planning Portal has seen use of its service grow to help over 330,000 unique users and deliver around 20,000 planning applications every month.

The new technical platform for the Planning Portal significantly cuts the cost of maintaining the site, as well as increasing the opportunities for revenue that the Portal can generate, reducing the burden on the public purse.

Over the coming weeks and months we will be adding new content and services from the private sector via our PortalApps service opening up the site to anyone who has a quality product or service relevant to our industry.

For more information visit the PortalApps area of the website.

Regular readers of this blog will know we have already begun work on the third and final part of our upgrade, which will aim to improve the online application forms (1App) delivering more efficiency benefits to all online applicants.

So as with all significant technical changes it’ll be a nervous weekend – wish us luck and see you on the other side of the weekend.

We have prepared a short video to give you a taste of what your new Portal will look like.

4 Comments
  1. The changes sound good.

    Is the demo video available on the Portal website too though? My business blocks access to Youtube, and i’m sure many other businesses do the same, so it’d be great if we can access the video elsewhere.

  2. Peter McClymont permalink

    Is this going to break deep links to portal advice pages? (again)

    If so, you should have given more notice so that we can change the many deep links we have on our website.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Hi Peter,
      Hopefully not – but it depends on how you are linking to us.

      If you are using the discrete links we recommend in the LPA Links pack then there should be no problem.

      Discrete links like “www.planningportal.gov.uk/apply” have been reallocated to the revised pages. There are around 50-60 of these, which we checked very recently.

      However, ‘deep’ links to pages several levels down in the navigation will inevitably break. There’s not much we can do about this is as the information architecture is fundamentally different and matching every instance across every Local Authority would be an impossible task for us to resource.

      To mitigate the inconvenience, we are using a custom Error 404 page (in non-techie speak – ‘we can’t find the page you’re looking for’ here are some suggestions).

      This will provide a ‘friendly’ apology for the broken link and highlights the new site map at the bottom of the page showing the top two levels of content.

      It also gives you a search box within the context of the error message to help you find what you were after.

      I’m sorry we couldn’t notify sooner for technical and governance reasons.

      Thanks for your support.

      Chris

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  1. The new-look Planning Portal – a note of thanks « Planning Portal Director – Views and news

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