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Solid blue colour background with Lambeth Council's logo on the right

Lambeth Council site rebuild

Lambeth Council, a local authority in London, needed to redevelop its outdated website to serve its constituents better. They wanted to focus on providing a more intuitive and accessible online platform. 

They had heard about an alpha-phase code-sharing initiative (soon to become LocalGov Drupal) and were interested in getting involved. 

Leveraging our experience as Lead Technical partner for the alpha phase of LocalGov Drupal, Agile Collective was entrusted with rebuilding the site. Enter our crack team of Drupal experts to take on the challenge.

The challenge

Lambeth Council had made excellent progress on UX and Visual Design for the new website. This included the formulation of a Design System and Content Principles inspired by the work of the Government Digital Service and Croydon Council. 

At this stage, they had yet to settle on a preferred technology and were still assessing the relative benefits of a couple of proprietary solutions and Drupal. 

They were familiar with Drupal as the existing site was built in Drupal 8, but they were nervous about the development time needed to rebuild and migrate content and data. 

With LocalGov Drupal in an Alpha release, Lambeth Council approached Agile Collective to assess and estimate the build process.

With detailed designs and functional requirements, Agile Collective could estimate the build time for the first section of a phased release and propose and price a 6-week build phase to release the first section of content.

Content migration and phased release

As part of the upgrade to the website, Lambeth Council wanted to take the opportunity to review all content and rewrite or update content and some parts of the information architecture. This meant that an automated content migration was not useful and that content designers would need significant blocks of time to add and update content manually.

This also prompted the idea of a phased release, initially just aiming to launch the Council Tax section of the website, then following up with other sections as the content designers had time to populate and review the content.

The Alpha release of the LocalGov Drupal distribution included all the content types and structures that content designers needed to start creating the content immediately. 

We installed LocalGov Drupal, set up content designers with accounts and let them start building the Council Tax section. This left the development team to get cracking on implementing the new designs.

The ability to install the site and immediately get started with content management significantly reduced the time it would take to get to a beta launch and convinced Lambeth that LocalGov Drupal was the way.

What is LocalGov Drupal? 

LocalGov Drupal is a CMS that grew from a code-sharing project between Croydon Council and Brighton and Hove City Council. 

Frustrated by the need to replicate the same functionality (wasting time and money), councils banded together to share resources and expertise to build a Drupal distribution designed by and for local government councils. 

This open-source project allows councils to install a feature-rich website ready to be populated and customised to the councils' needs.

Read more about the LocalGov Drupal collaboration.

Why LocalGov Drupal

Tailored Features and Functionalities: LocalGov Drupal offers a range of pre-built features specifically designed to meet the unique needs of local government websites. This includes modules for service pages, directories, events, news, guides, step-by-steps and subsites. 

LocalGov Drupal came with all the key building blocks for Lambeth Council to efficiently deliver essential services and information to its citizens.

Flexibility and Customizability: LocalGov Drupal provided the flexibility to customise the website to Lambeth Council's specific requirements. Agile Collective could tailor the design, functionality, and content management processes to align with the council's branding, goals, and user needs, ensuring a highly personalised digital experience.

Robust Content Management System: LocalGov Drupal's robust content management capabilities streamlined content creation, editing, and publishing. It facilitated collaboration among Lambeth Council's teams, empowering them to update and maintain accurate and up-to-date information across various departments.

Accessibility Compliance: Agile Collective prioritised accessibility compliance, adhering to WCAG 2.1 guidelines during the website's redevelopment. 

Vision, mission and cost savings: For both Lambeth Council and Agile Collective, embracing LocalGov Drupal’s vision of collaboration was a key driver. Not to mention the reduced cost, high quality and accelerated development cycles.

mobile view of Lambeth Council homepage
Lambeth council fostering service page on a tablet computer
Lambeth council services page listing the council services in alphabetical order

Rapid Beta release

With the content designers creating and managing content from the start and the development team building out the theme in parallel, we could publish the entire Council Tax section at the end of the 6-week, 3-sprint build phase. 

With some server-side redirects, anyone visiting was redirected to to see the new LocalGov Drupal site. All other URLs were redirected back to the legacy site. 

This allowed for feedback from citizens using the site and internal stakeholders, both encouraged through a banner stating, “This is a beta site; please tell us what you think”. 

LocalGov Drupal Subsites

While Lambeth was keen to follow GDS style designs for most of the site with very little use of images, they had three council services which they felt would benefit from their own identity - Weddings and civil ceremonies, Bereavement services and Fostering.

LocalGov Drupal includes subsites,  an optional feature that allows site areas to have their own visual identity without losing the sense of being part of the larger site. LocalGov Drupal subsites allow you to build mini sections with their own navigation, sub-brand, and rich multimedia content.

This was particularly important for the fostering services campaign, as it allowed the freedom to use images, videos, and different colours to communicate the importance and impact of fostering services and encourage more people to become foster parents. 

With the release of the Council Tax section, the content designers and development team could move on to the fostering section and release this as another discrete section of the site at

LocalGov Drupal Directories and data integration

Another key feature of the new site was the Family information directory (FID). The LocalGov Drupal directory allows citizens to find local activities, organisations and services using our directory of services for children and young people, including Ofsted registered childcare available in Lambeth.

Developing this feature relied on two key items:

  1. LocalGov Drupal Directories allow items to be listed, indexed and searched across several facets. Each directory can be customised according to the needs of the individual listing.
  2. In the case of the Family Information Directory, parents and caregivers need to find local, age-specific services for their children - such as nurseries, after-school clubs and activities. A map was essential, allowing parents to find nearby services quickly. 

Nightly imported information

The Lambeth team managed the data for the FID in another system and needed to be able to keep the website up-to-date through a data import. With a custom Drupal migration, the directory data is migrated into the relevant taxonomy terms, geo entities and Drupal nodes every night to ensure Lambeth citizens have the most accurate information. 

A consequence of this approach is that the directory content is only managed indirectly on the Drupal site, except in an emergency with incorrect or troubling content. A site admin can log in and amend or remove content in this case.

In summary

Lambeth Council are pleased with the end product. They were also impressed with the time and money we helped them save.

The LocalGov Drupal distribution gave them all the features they needed to rise to the challenge that they had set themselves (and us).

We’re also very proud of the results, but perhaps equally important is that we gained valuable experience in creating user-friendly and accessible council sites.  

It was also fantastic for our team to implement a LocalGov Drupal build, having dedicated so much time and energy to that project.

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