Putting the Wales into the Wales Audit Office: Why we’ve made the big switch to .wales and .cymru

The digital presence of an organisation has never been more essential, whether it’s private or public sector. And, here, at the Wales Audit Office, we know that our digital presence will always evolve.

Switching our website and email addresses to the new .wales and .cymru domains is a big part of that evolution.
As the public sector watchdog for Wales, we believe that it is important to have a Welsh online identity and are adopting the new Welsh domains, in line with other major Welsh organisations – including the National Assembly for Wales, Welsh Government, Sport Wales, Media Wales, S4C and the Arts Council for Wales.

Green and red dots with Welsh flags

I joined the organisation as Digital Communications Officer in August 2014 and have worked closely with our IT team to coordinate the big domain name switch.

Our new addresses are:

These names not only capture who we are succinctly, avoiding any hyphens or abbreviations, but the use of our keywords ‘audit’ and ‘wales’ together in the domain name is a clear improvement for us in terms of digital marketing and search engine optimisation.

And this ultimately ties in with the general benefits of moving to .wales and .cymru. By strengthening our Welsh identity, on a global level, we can increase the awareness of our work in helping the public sector to improve – as well as improving our engagement with members of the public.

We’ve also tied in our domain name switch with mainstreaming a consistent approach to our email communications across the organisation. We’ve set staff up with new bilingual email addresses – using the audit.wales and archwilio.cymru suffixes.

Staff feedback has been very positive and it’s allowed us to improve our Welsh language communications with staff and the public. We’ve done this by:

  • creating Welsh equivalent emails for all of our generic contact addresses – something we hadn’t previously set up
  • we’ve supplied all staff with a new email signature template capturing both domain names and email addresses, and
  • we’ve issued new bilingual ‘out of office’ templates as well – sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference.

Our existing email addresses and old domain name using the ‘wao.gov.uk’ suffix will continue to work and redirect for the foreseeable future, but we are encouraging all links to be updated on websites and contact lists.

I’ll be closely monitoring the impact of our new .wales and .cymru identity via our website and social analytics. And, I now look forward to seeing which other organisations join us in making the web more welsh and the impact that the big switch will have on the Wales Audit Office and Auditor General for Wales.

About the author:
Louise Foster-KeyLouise Foster-Key has been working in communications for nearly 5 years. Before starting at the Wales Audit Office she worked for 3 years at the Welsh Government in the Department for Education and Skills starting off as a Web Coordinator before progressing to the Departmental Web Manager role.

Prior to that, she worked for the Internal Communications and Press Team at Companies House.

Her current role as the Digital Communications Officer for the Wales Audit Office has allowed her to develop skills in HTML and CSS for website design and accessibility improvements.

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