Look and feel of public facing engagement and consultation (and use of widgets)

In this feature, we take a look at the styles you can employ when engaging with your community and the importance of flexibility in achieving good response rates and representation.

The style selected should always match the target population

There is no standard one “take it or leave it” public view of a digital engagement space that will perform to set targets for every local authority.

The reason for this is that the population mix and area of every authority is different in many ways.

By age

By ethnic diversity

By cultural diversity

By deprivation

By access to digital

For this reason, the decision on styling must take into account both the area and the population.


Conditions that must be met

To some degree, local government has some flexibility in the styling (including look and feel and functionality) of the space they set aside for consultations and engagements.

However, Government is putting increasing pressure on local authorities to ensure their reach and access is as inclusive as it can be.


Option 1: The embedded approach to engagement and consultation

With the growing importance placed on access, ensuring everyone (irrespective of their challenges or disability) has the ability to “have their say” or “be involved”, seamless well-integrated engagement and consultation has become the firm favourite for many local authorities.

Some choose to embed pages within the council website with a style and functionality that is totally consistent with the rest of the website. This reduces the risk of confusion, keeps engagement and consultation in the one place and works seamlessly with the whole web site.

Such an embedded seamless approach to engaging community has worked extremely well for many authorities.and it is fair to say that embedded engagement and consultation which does not place reliance of people registering achieves far high response rates and far greater representation of local authorities.

A great example of this is Gateshead Council.

For example, here is an example of an engagement that empoyed maps and a survey and delivered incredibly high response rates for Gateshead Council. 


Engaging community in Zero Carbon Gateshead 

This particular engagement made use of interactive maps with questions that asked people to map great examples of best practice and suggest initiatives that would help deliver zero carbon.

The end result was a map pinned with 100s of examples of best practice and new ideas.

We put this great result down to two things.

First the use of well positioned information on the landing pages of the website.

Second, information and links to the engagement included in targeted newsletters and on social media. 



9,500 responses received to a “Leisure Services Consultation” carried out by Gateshead Council.

Such a huge interest and response was as a result of different methods used to inform the community via stakeholders and a prominent location selected on the website to promote the engagement. 


Option 2: Total compliance with GDS with a registration area for conversations and greater involvement with community

With this option, current and completed engagements are available to view in any screen size but the style is totally consistent with the style of the Gov.uk website.

A great example of this is Denbighshire Council in Wales.

The pages are designed to blend in totally with Denbighshire.gov.uk. Denbighshire Council's main aim in the design was to ensure accessibility of the site was maximised.  This particular example has multi-lingual functionality.


Option 3: “Have your say” branded engagement not styled to align with the Council website

A few local authorities choose to style their engagements and consultations separately from their main website.

However, there are some challenges to be aware of when choosing this approach,

First, the delivery of effective representation and large response rates relies on growing a panel or engagement community that wishes to be engaged and involved.  Community must be prepared to go the “extra mile”, sign up and register.

A further challenge is accessibility.  Often these domains can be difficult to find and certainly would not be immediately located on search engines.

Councils can have flexibility in the design of the website.. The page above is just one example of what can be achieved. 

A page designed for the particular engagement and consultation could look something like this using widgets as defined by the client. 


Helping you make the decision

This feature as it develops should help you take crucial decision over styling.

We will address the “pros” and “cons” of different approaches and we will examine why certain approaches deliver excellent results.

We will address issues of accessibility.

We will look at the developing trend to align engagement to the "My Account" log in which makes it far easier for people to connect with their council and be involved in decisions taken.


Values Shared, Pride of Place and Levelling Up - A community led approach

YPYS is delighted to announce a new bottom-up Shared Values approach to engagement that is more aligned to the demands placed on local government to drive social value, grow Pride of Place and win more from funding available for activity such as Levelling Up and funds available in the Shared Prosperity Fund.


For more information:

e: Jonathan.Bostock@yourplaceyourspace.com 

Project dates

18 Jul 2023 - On-going


People & community


Your Place Your Space

Jonathan Bostock

0121 410 5520
jonathan.bostock@ yourplaceyourspace.com