An enthusiastic group approach to tough complicated content, meant that an old government website was able to morph into something truly useful.
Everyone now and then write-minded is lucky enough to work on a project that makes a genuine difference in the world. And while you’d probably have to be a NSW teacher to really appreciate the importance of this website (and how much time the old one was wasting everyone), it is a great feeling knowing that it’s out there in the world hopefully making an incredibly complicated process a little bit simpler. For those who don’t know (and I didn’t) teaching is a highly regulated profession and teachers are required to put a lot of time into their accreditation level as they move throughout their career. Before this site existed, NSW teachers spent a lot of time reading government-style PDFs, working through confusing navigation, getting frustrated and calling the NSW Institute of Teachers on the phone (now known as The Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards or BOSTES) possibly feeling a bit cross and resentful for having to jump through so many hoops. But the site held an enormous amount of important and compulsory info. It was a mammoth but necessary beast. So where did we start?
THE OLD SITE
A great IA. I can’t take credit for putting the draft IA together but my role was to help finesse it as the content development evolved. The new IA is user-focused, divided into core audiences and tasks. Teachers no longer had to deal with website navigation that reflected the internal structure of the organisation. Phew.
Web training: Before the migration of content began, content owners were trained how to assess their content and make it more WCAG accessible. They were a willing audience who knew there was a lot to be done and happy to get the direction.
Web content audit: Instead of this being done externally by someone like write-minded, content owners were asked to review their own pages. Remember, this was really complicated information that only they could assess in terms of relevance. They were guided through the project and supported when they needed help.
Content rewrite: Once the content deemed critical had been migrated into the new IA, write-minded reviewed the information. This was done in close consultation with the content owners. It wasn’t an edit. It was a massive rewrite which captured a big change from how the information was previously presented. It contained core and consistent messaging, a uniform voice, and plain English instead of formal policy speak.
Amendments and sign-off. And yes, there were a few rounds but for a government project things moved very swiftly. This was one determined team who knew their audience desperately wanted a better online experience.
Launch and a celebration afternoon tea. No-one ever celebrates website launches anymore (bring back the ’90s!) so it was lovely to see a big project – that could have been derailed at any point simply because the information was so darn tricky – being acknowledged. All in all, a great experience thanks to the group’s commitment and really good leadership.
THE NEW SITE
Got a big messy content project that needs sorting? We’d love to hear from you.