Nothing ever lasts forever
Farewell IDeA. It was fun.
Friday, August 31st marked the last day of idea.gov.uk, part of familiar cycle of centralising government websites. It was - once upon a time - the website of the Improvement and Development Agency for local government, which back at the turn of the millennium was the closest thing you could find to a government startup.
Part energetic think-tank, part driven consultancy, part digital resource, for 2001 the IDeA was miles ahead of its time, and it’s where I spent four years as internet manager alongside many people who are still, a decade and more on, high on a list of the best people I’ve ever worked with. Sean Powley, Jayne Oxley, Farhan Lalji, Catherine Forbes, Christian Walsh, Ciara Owen, Natasha Gray, Gareth Wall - I mean you.
During my time at the IDeA, my small team took a perfectly ordinary website and made it something pretty special. We were among the first, if not the very first, to rollout a pure CSS-driven layout on a government site, right at the time that Wired and ESPN were doing the same; we hand-rolled our own content management system; we wrote immaculate markup; we were a benchmark site for accessibility; we were doing proper, hard content strategy before it was a ‘thing’; we worked with two fantastic agencies in Precedent and Getfrank on the design at various stages. We had a ball.
I joked at a dinner with friends a while back that sometimes I really missed ‘being a webmaster’. This is what I meant - working on this site, day in, day out, making it better every single day. I’m very, very proud of the work I and that team did back then. Sad to see it go.IDeA website, back in 2004.