New NorfolkParishes

Why allow Comments?

Comments are switched on by default on your website. But don’t worry.  It’s not about to make your site like Facebook with strangers posting abuse for all and sundry to see.  The first thing to remember is that you are in control. If you don’t want someone commenting on the site you simply don’t approve their comments.

It is also possible to stop comments on new posts and on existing posts.  Follow the links to find out how.

BUT, before you do that consider the benefits of comments:

  • If a resident has a question, the chances are that others will also have the question.  Let people comment and answer their questions and it will save you time answering their questions via email or over the phone
  • Build community spirit. A resident asking a question might get their questions answered by another resident.  You’re giving a chance for conversations to develop that might not otherwise happen.  This is a good thing.
  • You won’t be swamped. Approving (or deleting) is a single click. It is quick and easy. Certainly quicker and easier than answered an email or the phone. And if you find yourself with lots of comments then you can be proud that you are engaging with your residents.
  • People are nice. You’re as likely to get compliments as complaints.

Basic Site Structure

There are over 120 sites on the existing NorfolkParishes system. We have analysed what pages the sites currently use, looked at other excellent town and parish council sites, and consulted with people who are experienced in the field. Based on that we have come up with the following basic structure for each site:

  • Home including a basic introduction to area
  • News
  • Councillors
  • Meetings – agendas and minutes
  • Links
  • Calendar

Most sites will have some extra pages and as you can see from the Sample site there are pages for a Ward Map, for emergency planning information and a whole range of widgets in the sidebar.

When the sites are migrated across to the new system each council will have this basic structure plus any additional pages and posts required to accommodate the existing content on your site.


This is probably the most novel part of the new system and the most flexible. On the Sample site we have included 8 widgets.  They are:

  1. About this site – it is important for visitors new to your site to understand it’s purpose. It’s part of the democratic process as opposed to Tourist Information or a Preservation Trust – you choose. You may also want to stress how you want to use the site to listen to other people or you may decide not to. Either way the important thing it to let people know. You can put any text you like here.
  2. Contact Us – possibly the most common reason for visiting your site.  People are likely to be looking for how to contact you.  Give them the information they need. Address, phone number, email address.  Office hours, contact names. Whatever you feel appropriate. Whatever people need to know. You simply change the text.
  3. Subscribe2 our site – not everyone will remember to check back on your site to see what is happening. This widget gives people the chance to get notified everytime you update the site. when a new post goes up an email gets sent.  This will be set up in advance for you.
  4. Calendar – this is a popular feature in most council sites but one that seems difficult to use. We have included the calendar on front page so it is easily visible. An alternative would be to place the calendar on it’s own page and include a link on the menu.  We’ll show you how on this page.  We’re using a Google calendar so store and display the dates.  It is a useful tool that allows people to share and collaborate.
  5. Photos – another popular, yet simple to implement feature. People love to see pictures of the place in which they live. People love to share their pictures. We have embedded a slideshow of pictures from Flickr tagged with Attleborough. We’ll show you how to do this over here. You aren’t able to control what gets displayed but you are doing both your visitors and the photographers a service.
  6. Links – You can’t do everything on your site and the chances are there will be other websites that cover your area.  You might want to link to other tiers of government, to local charities and organisations, or perhaps even to local businesses.  It is your choice and WordPress makes it easy with a dedicated Links section that makes it easy to add and organise your links.
  7. BBC News – We’ve chosen the BBC News as our feed but any site with an RSS feed (you’ll know because your browser will display the orange fan symbol where one is present – like on this site) can be used. Local papers, local bloggers, your MP. We’ll show you on this page how to set up the widget, but it is down to you to choose what is most appropriate for your council.
  8. FixMyStreet – this is a fabulous tool created by an organisation called MySociety which allows citizens to easily and quickly report problems in their area to the relevant authority. Potholes are a common complaint along with fly-tipping. One feature of the site is that it allows us to list all reports made with 5 miles (or any distance you like) of a postcode such as your council offices. We’ll show you how to set it up here.