Polling station on Shoreham Beach

The advent of fixed term parliaments in the UK will make this a particularly interesting general election from a digital journalism point of view.

This will be the first election where the newspapers (and others sites – but the newspapers are the ones with the resources to make this interesting) have known the date of the election well in advance. And why does that matter?

Planning.

If you know the date of the election, you can start building interactive tools for your site and apps in plenty of time, and have them ready to go during the campaign. These projects take time and resources, need testing, and often several iterations of their development. There’s a reason we’ve seen a lot of interesting and sophisticated pieces of interactive work done around the Olympics: fixed, known dates, which the sites can plan for.

So, if you’re looking for a good litmus test of how digitally evolved any of our mainstream news sites are – look at what they produce over the next month. It’ll be very telling, I suspect.