The government has developed a content management system (CMS) that it hopes will slash the cost of managing government websites and improve their use.
The system, called Delivering on the Promise (DotP), is based on BEA Weblogic technology and has been developed over 12 months by the e-delivery team of the Office of the e-Envoy.
The e-envoy's office claims that departments using DotP can cut the time to implement a CMS from one to two years down to less than six months to a year, and at a lower cost.
UKOnline is the first customer of DotP, with other sites due to move over by the end of the year.
Government agencies have created around 1,800 websites, containing around 2.4 million pages, most of which are unmanaged.
A large departmental site could have 70,000 pages with none deleted since it was created, and many levels of content, look and feel and navigation styles, making them hard both to manage and use.
DotP is part of a government attempt to make sense of the mass of information it publishes. The system allows content to be given expiry dates to allow removal or reworking, and links are automatically reviewed to make sure they work.
It also shrinks web pages to allow fast downloads (of less than five seconds) on 56k modems. Pages automatically resize for mobile phones and handheld devices.
Alan Mather, chief executive of e-delivery at the Office of the e-Envoy, said the benefit to government departments is speed.
"The next department in writes no code. It takes away the technology risk for them because here is a system that is ready to go that will do content management," he said.
"There are government agencies that haven't deleted pages for years because they can't find them anymore."
The system is expected to pay for itself after four large departments sign up, and from then on the government should make savings.
Mather said the e-Envoy's team is also looking at federated search, so that when a search term is typed in on the 'wrong' government website - such as 'child benefit' entered on the Ministry of Defence site - the user is taken to the right information even if it is on a different website.
And further down the line the e-Envoy's office is looking at personalising websites, said Mather.
"Ultimately the benefit is to the public, because you will be able to take data and provide it in a personalised way," he said.
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