Behind-the-scenes of the new InterSector website

Public Sector Commission

To mark the launch of the new InterSector website, the Commission is sharing some insight into the development of the articles, discussion forums and events calendar.

Improved article submission process

InterSector articles are the mainstay of the website, enabling agencies to share their experiences and achievements. These articles go to the heart of the Public Sector Commission’s values and role, supporting the sector to collaborate and share information.

For visitors to the website, we’ve made the site more attractive and articles are easier to read and navigate. Further, public sector employees who create an account can also subscribe to fortnightly article updates, discuss the articles on our new forums, or visit their ‘My account’ page to see a list of contributors who are already approved to post on behalf of their agency.

As we reviewed the history of articles on InterSector, we appreciated the variety of stories told by agencies of all sizes; reading about agencies that may not attract much attention in mainstream media; behind-the-scenes insight into agency projects and processes (like this article); and articles recognising employees who may not otherwise be profiled outside of their agency.

We recognised that by helping contributors write articles that would interest our target public sector audience, we would attract more readers; in turn, the increased readership would encourage more agencies to contribute high quality articles. As such, our new Article guidelines emphasise the need for agencies to customise articles for a public sector audience. While this may take a little more work than using an existing media statement verbatim, readers will appreciate the insight and practical tips to help them in their work.

Importantly, the six-weekly publication schedule has been changed to a fortnightly email to subscribers. To support this increased frequency, the moderators will take a lighter touch to editing (as long as articles align with the guidelines), and we’ll aim to approve articles as quickly as possible. In this way, contributors can be assured of more timely delivery of their articles to readers.

We’ve streamlined the submission process with growth in mind. To this end, we’ve developed an interface for contributors to enter content directly (copy-pasting from Word is okay!) and attach photos to display alongside their article. Contributors who wish to forego Word entirely may save their article as ‘Draft’, preview the article and make changes as required, then submit the article to the moderators when it’s ready.

New discussion forums for sector-wide information sharing

As some in the public sector may know, the Commission has operated and moderated email networks for distinct professional groups—in particular, ‘HRShare’ for human resource professionals and ‘FinShare’ for those working in finance (with some other lists used more occasionally).

In redeveloping InterSector, we wanted to replace those one-way email networks with proper discussion forums where visitors could post questions and ideas, and others could reply or read the replies of their contemporaries across the sector.

Anyone in the WA public sector can now sign up and post, though forum participants cannot post anonymously. Further, our forum rules and moderation processes—outlined in the Forum guidelines—were developed to facilitate productive and professional conversation without necessarily involving the Commission.

As the forums are a new feature for InterSector, we are keen to trial them with Western Australian public sector employees before we consider expanding the audience or feature set. As these employees become accustomed to the forums, we expect they will give us feedback on how they'd like to see involvement from those outside the WA public sector. That feedback will help us in considering possible changes in a future stage of development.

New events calendar for public sector professional development

Historically, the InterSector events calendar has related to ‘What’s on’ in Western Australia, whether or not the event was related to the public sector. As such, it wasn’t supporting InterSector’s public sector audience, and was better served by similar services such as the comprehensive Tourism WA calendar.

On the other hand, PSWA Announce has been valuable in providing a central reference point for professional development opportunities for public sector employees. However, PSWA Announce lacked a central calendar of events posted, and providers were limited in how often they were able to post.

With the new website, having an actual calendar that visitors can browse and filter at any time is in itself a significant improvement over PSWA Announce. We have designated categories conservatively at this stage, primarily based on the Common Use Arrangement for Training Courses. The ‘Seminars and forums’ category is a catch-all for breakfast seminars, workshops, conferences and expos. There are also categories for other topics relevant to public sector employees, and new categories may be added as required.

The events submission process—detailed in the Events calendar guidelines—has been streamlined. In particular, providers will find it easier to advertise the same event multiple times (for example, a training course held once a month). Providers can now also set the region for each date that they attach to an event, and visitors can filter the calendar accordingly.

While the events calendar is currently limited to events scheduled by the provider on specific dates, the Commission is considering how to best represent events and courses that a provider may offer online (e.g. that participants can register, start and finish at their own pace), or offer to public sector agencies as an in-house option. If your organisation holds these types of events, please email your comments to intersector@psc.wa.gov.au. While no immediate changes are planned, the Commission seeks to open a dialogue with affected providers and will consider all feedback for possible future development.

About the Commission’s website redevelopment project

The InterSector website was developed on the open source Drupal platform. Its redevelopment is part of a larger project to improve design, content and compliance of the Commission’s websites with the website governance framework and related policies. This project has also delivered the new WA.gov.au (2011), Public Sector Commission website (2012), and Integrity Coordinating Group website (2013). The team is also redeveloping the Jobs WA home page to improve the experience for job seekers.

Thank you

We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about how InterSector was developed, and we’re excited to now work with agencies to deliver more content through the site. If you haven’t already, please create an InterSector account and subscribe to updates (from the ‘My account’ page). Your feedback is encouraged to intersector@psc.wa.gov.au