Observatory website survey reponses now available

Thank you to everyone who completed the Observatory’s recent website satisfaction survey. We have taken all of your responses and comments on board and are now working on making our website more user friendly.

As part of our review of web services, we’re planning the following actions based on your responses:

  • Improve the profile of research gaps on wmro.org
  • Ensure all records in the Resource Catalogue have a metadata summary page
  • Remove the Directory of Specialists from the website, create a network group in LinkedIn and encourage users to relocate their profiles there.
  • Remove the organisations directory from wmro.org

Following more investigation with users, we’ll also review the future of the Register of Consultants.

We’ve decided to remove some of our website services (Directory of Specialists, organisations directory and possibly the Register of Consultants) based on the results of the survey.

The results showed that these areas are rarely used, are not valued and of limited importance.

This will allow us to concentrate our efforts on those areas of the website we know are of high importance to most users:

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Take part in Observatory website survey

We launched a survey this morning asking what you think of the West Midlands Regional Observatory website – and we would very much value your feedback.

The aim of the survey is to learn what users think of the website and how it can be improved.

The survey should only take 3 minutes to complete and will remain open for the next two weeks, closing 12th February.

Please go here to complete the survey.

Thanks in advance for taking part. Your responses will directly influence how the website is developed.

Observatory map featured in top 10 government data visualisations and applications

An interactive map produced by the Observatory has been featured in The Guardian’s top 10 government data visualisations and applications.

Screenshot: interactive map showing Jobseeker's Allowance claimant rates in the West Midlands

This map shows the proportion of the working age population claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in each local authority in the West Midlands. You can also compare data for each local authority with the West Midlands and UK averages.

The map is based on the latest employment and unemployment data released monthly by the Office for National Statistics. The Observatory analyses this data as part of its work in monitoring the impact of the recession on the West Midlands.

As well as local authority, we also show the data in maps for:

The 10 data visualisations and applications were highlighted by the Guardian Datastore on the same day the government publicly launched the data.gov.uk site. This new site aims to unlock innovation and encourage data-led decisions by opening up public sector data for reuse in innovative applications and websites.

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Web service API for Observatory’s search service

Screenshot of website sources included in web service API

A new search engine went live on the Observatory’s website last month. The aim is to provide you with better search results — ranked by relevancy — and more detailed controls over refinements to your search results.

Another feature is that the search service provides search results from other regional organisations’ websites; the search isn’t limited to the pages within wmro.org.

Also, the search service is open for use by other organisations. The search functions are exposed as a web service API, which developers can use to query our search index and display the results in their own websites or applications.

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Summary of data, mashups and APIs event

Birmigham Social Media CafeLast Wednesday, I went to an event at Fazeley Studios in Birmingham to explore innovative, useful and important applications of data.

The event — titled Data, Mashups and APIs — was organised by Birmingham Social Media Cafe and sponsored by The Guardian, Barefoot Wine and Screen WM.

I won’t try and summarise the whole event. A huge amount of material was covered and Chris Unitt has already posted this very detailed round up pulling together all of the talks and links.

However, I thought I’d pull out a couple of highlights.

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Draft new menu structure for wmro.org

West Midlands Regional Observatory logoIt’s just over 12 months since the re-launch of the Observatory’s website www.wmro.org. Since the re-launch last year, our range of research has widened and there is a new focus on particular themes.

To try and help visitors to our website more easily find the research and data they want, I’m considering how best to restructure the menu navigation.

To help in this, I’d really value your feedback on a proposed new menu structure for the website.

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