Coronavirus (COVID-19) communications platform

12/05/2020 by Phil Shackleton

Over the last month, we have received countless messages from clients detailing the integral value Mixd has provided in supporting the NHS and other front-line public sector organisations as part of the government response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

WordPress platform for crisis communications

Good user-focussed website design has the potential to save lives and help the country deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. During the unfolding of the crisis, we’ve seen communications emerge as a core function responsible for keeping NHS staff safe and critical healthcare services running. We have also seen huge increases in traffic on many of the public facing NHS websites that we manage during the week commencing 19th April. During this week, COVID-19 related searches in Google more than doubled in a matter of hours.

Graph showing google search trend data for COVID-19 NHS

Google trends data for the ‘Covid-19 NHS’ search is shown above.

With this in mind, we wanted to do what we could to help the NHS during the crisis and felt there was a need for a Coronavirus (COVID-19) communications platform that could quickly and easily be deployed for NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Councils and Police Forces across the UK. The goal was simple – design and develop a website platform that would facilitate clear communication.

The COVID-19 communications platform is intended to offer direct links to the latest updates and information such as employee well-being, HR guidance and latest health & safety advice. One click can take you to the latest Daily Bulletin with guidance on changes to services and more. With many of our clients, this information was previously scattered across public facing websites and intranets without a central directory. Effective crisis communications, both internally within the organisation and externally for the public, requires a delicate balance of providing relevant information in a timely manner without contributing to panic or already heightened states of stress. Our COVID-19 communications platform provides a standalone solution that allows NHS Trusts and CCGs to easily manage expectations with regular communication.

iPhone Xs displaying the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Coronavirus website

Free communications tool for NHS

Working closely with our existing NHS customers as they developed engagement and communication strategies, we’ve seen some powerful best practices emerge which helped us develop and evolve this comprehensive platform for communications. For the NHS and public sector organisations we are offering this platform without charge*, for a limited time period, to counter the increased risks associated with COVID-19.

Coronavirus services updates and daily bulletins

We’ve witnessed internal communications emerge as a core function tasked with keeping employees safe and healthcare services running. Clinical staff need regular communication and guidance to protect their health and in delivering critical services. Built on WordPress (an open source content management system) our communications platform is GDPR compliant, complies with The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018, provides a centralised hub for latest news and allows management and staff to:

  • Instantly communicate to employees in real time
  • Share documents and video files

Additionally the platform uses responsive design to make sure the website works on different browsers and devices.

Depending on the intended audience, the website can be deployed publicly or hosted internally within the organisation’s network. Optionally, Mixd can host the site externally and access can be restricted for staff only with Single-Sign On (SSO).

Founder and Digital Director of Mixd, Phil Shackleton, says: “In these unprecedented times it’s more important than ever that we pull together to do whatever we can to help each other. As our specialism has always been user centered design for the NHS and other public sectors, we understand what’s needed to keep teams running, engaged and informed.”

Compliance with NHS Identity Guidelines

One crucial piece of feedback we had during the initial development was to enable NHS Trusts and CCGs to communicate quickly and easily without the noise of non-vital chatter. With this in mind, the solution adheres to the principles set out in the NHS Digital Service Manual and importantly, complies with the NHS Identity Guidelines to ensure a consistent and usable service that puts people first.

Addressing infrastructure barriers

By choosing to isolate the information from any existing website or intranet we are able to simplify the structure and navigation – users have fewer pages to navigate, creating a clearer, faster experience. Additionally, reliance on existing infrastructure (i.e. existing websites or intranets) can present a barrier when it comes to extending functionally. Our solution has been developed to be deployed as a standalone microsite quickly and easily. We are able to install, configure and deploy the solution within 48 hours!

Managed cloud services

We can optionally include the provision of a TLS/SSL certificate and provide managed hosting if required or you can choose to host the site yourself. Our Mixd Managed Hosting platform is cloud-based and uses the Rackspace Cloud infrastructure, a trusted and proven cloud provider. We can maintain the entire WordPress stack for you, from software to servers, so we can offer advice and support on pretty much any aspect of your services. We can also actively monitor your WordPress application for maintenance updates and security patches and apply all identified patches where appropriate to all systems to mitigate exposure to vulnerabilities. This option makes it much easier to and quicker to setup and deploy the site for new clients.

* Hosting and support costs may be applicable.