Constituent Engagement, Customer Experience

The Makeover of Canada.ca for Better Constituent Engagement


adobe canada.ca

At this year’s Adobe Digital Government Assembly, Michel Laviolette, Senior Director of the Web Standards Office at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, shared how digital service teams across the Government of Canada worked together to revamp the government’s main portal, Canada.ca, in order to better serve citizens.

When the team inventoried the original site, they discovered just how sprawling of a project Canada.ca was; the portal was initially created with nearly 100 web partners. Over the course of time, the site expanded to over 2000 web applications and 11 million pages, all of which were not standardized or necessarily compliant to accessibility standards. In some cases, Canadians would have to go to over 13 websites to get the information and forms they needed to apply for a small business loan, get a permit, or other simple tasks. Even more, across the site there were 900+ social media accounts over 5 platforms – some of which were even linked to personal email accounts, compounding the already pressing security concerns the colossal site posed.

In 2014, after the inventory of Canada.ca, Laviolette and the makeover team set out clear goals with actionable steps in order to refresh and consolidate the site. In sum, the goal of the rehab was to offer a single window with simple navigation to Canadian citizens so that they could access information and services online. Maintaining user functionality was vital, but it had to be done while also addressing demanding security upgrades and ensuring the site would be accessible in remote areas and to speakers of all official languages.

The first step the team took was to secure funding and identify senior officials for oversight of the program. By getting executive buy-in for the changes, each of the 91 partners had stronger accountability to the program; this also facilitated the decision-making for standardization of digital service delivery. In streamlining and standardizing the site, the Canadian government turned to Akamai and Adobe to help optimize their mission goals. With Adobe, the GoC was able to rethink its digital design and user-interface; with Akamai, government could ensure that the site would be widely available and flexible.

As a result of the concentrated effort, the team:

  • Optimized the metadata on all 11 million pages to make content more searchable
  • Archived older information
  • Decommissioned old infrastructure
  • Reduced redundant data and content
  • Developed content policy that ensured all material was written between a sixth and eighth grade level
  • Drove procedural change with advanced analytics
  • Optimized content for outside search engines

Through this process, Laviolette expressed the importance of teamwork, executive buy-in, and excellent vendor support. In sum, he shared a number of key lessons learned from this massive project:

  • Large scale transformations need top down support
  • Strong governance and oversight are key
  • Partnerships between all stakeholders with communication and engagement are key to success
  • The right vendor resources can simplify your project
  • Buy-in is easier when you can present a clear vision

The makeover of Canada.ca not only made information easier to find for citizens, but it also improved the government’s digital security posture. With this security success, the portal has been able to become highly available, accessible in even in the most remote areas of the country. Check out the site for yourself at Canada.ca and learn how your site can make similar changes with Adobe and Akamai.

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