A publishing platform for UK councils


Enabling bright ideas and brilliant businesses is a core goal at Zaltek. Parish Online had found a gap in a growing market for a publishing platform that would spin up accessible, GOVUK style websites for UK councils, with an emphasis on utterly foolproof content entry. Working alongside the Parish Online team, we developed a bespoke, scaleable solution which uses GOV building blocks for a hyper-accessible user experience and a custom CMS for no-nonsense content entry.

The Challenge

Parish Online found a number of parish councils were struggling to manage complicated, traditional systems. Often lacking the knowledge to make the changes they want, some councils had been left with websites that had limited functionality and that they weren’t happy with. In many cases, no website was preset at all.

These councils needed a platform where they could create a professionally presented and content-rich website, but that would crucially be dead simple to use. The hosting costs would need to stack up too.

The Approach

At Zaltek we take a tech agnostic approach, believing that there’s no skeleton key to software development. Instead, we opt to use carefully selected technologies that excel in the given context, even if it means trying something new. As such we endeavour to take the time to weigh up the possible tech solutions through “discovery” sessions.

It became clear early on that councillors would need a bespoke solution. Out of the box CMS solutions would simply be too complicated for the average Parish Councillor, who typically operates at a low level of technical experience.

Our first thought was the growing, publicly owned Localgov Drupal platform, whose users would be part of a growing open-source community, supporting each other to make great websites using Drupal (see the one we made for Luton). Once again however, we’d seen many of these councils didn’t have the IT resources to benefit from a complex and collaborative platform.

We started with a leading content management system, deliberately chosen because of its customisation options. We wanted to build an admin interface and content editor which would allow users to create and manage content with zero distractions, in as few clicks as possible.

The final solution is simple, fast, cheap to host and adaptable. From a development perspective this stack proved incredibly user-friendly too.

Government Design System guidelines and CSS classes, supplemented with Tailwind CSS, were used for styling fully GOVUK and WCAG compliant pages. Our technology has a number of powerful tools for rendering content, allowing the user to navigate seemingly instantly from page to page.


nextj page for the parish site

Example page built on our platform


Our product was a ‘pick up and go’ website, with which councils could have a fully GOV/WCAG compliant online presence running in hours. This super-scaleable solution benefits everyone – Zaltek are able to make changes across the board quickly, Parish Online have an extremely low-maintenance product for customers, and councils receive a functional website in hours.

By using a popular CMS as our template, we were able to create intuitive content types, with easy to understand content entry fields. These allowed addition of news articles, staff pages and custom pages to the sites. Moreover, logos, banners and metadata as well as primary and secondary colours are  customisable. This data would be fetched into the site using built-in queries.



To achieve the scale and maintainability, we lean on the 12 Factor App methodology for deployment. We used containerisation tech provided by Docker and Kubernetes to spin up (and spin down) instances on demand.  By taking this approach we can manage all the deployed instances as a whole and take advantage of economies of scale. We also we have recommended a content style guide to keep all their websites on brand, this included ways on working on tone of voice, purpose and style. 

The Result

We developed a quick and easy to use platform that creates professional, responsive GOVUK sites. The product highlights the benefits of the stack, used in the perfect context, to its maximum potential.


example parish homepage

Example homepage built using the platform


"The team at Zaltek Digital are a pleasure to work with. Their enthusiasm, progressive methodologies and attention to detail has resulted in a high quality web service that’s perfect for our customers."

- Chris Mewse Managing Director Geoxphere