Client

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

Developing a Large Governmental Public Website using Microsoft SharePoint

Regroove displayed historical content in a modern way on a public website that receives hundreds of daily content updates.

The Legislative Assembly of BC is the deliberative assembly of the Parliament of British Columbia, who gather in Victoria, BC, Canada to make laws, approve finances, and scrutinize government.

Challenge

The Legislative Assembly of BC’s public website receives hundreds of daily visitors with monthly traffic in the thousands. Many visitors are parliamentary power users, actively engaging in the democratic process. Many others are from the general public, unfamiliar with parliamentary language, and looking to explore.

The Legislative Assembly wanted their public website rearchitected to have an intuitive, consistent, and easily updatable website navigation menu. The challenge was finding a design that catered to both power users and the public.

The content management system selected would need to store over 200,000 pages of archival data including digitized transcripts dating back to 1972. All this historical data needed to organize in a logical way and be displayed within a modern and device-responsive design.

They wanted the website to have fast page load speeds and handle the pressure from spikes in traffic around key dates such as parliamentary changeover.

The Legislative Assembly content team needed to be able to publish content quickly and with confidence to keep up with the hundreds of updates they produce daily. Having a content management system that is easy to use yet complex enough to allow for precise control over publishing was key. For example, they wanted the ability to roll back to a previous version of a webpage should content be published in error or preemptively.

Finally, the public website project involved dozens of committees that had to be kept informed of all project status updates, design decisions, and proposed changes. The project team needed to be able to keep all stakeholders in sync and on the same page from inception through post-delivery support.

The success of this project rested on our ability to keep a lot of different stakeholders all on the same page.

Matt Longpre, Designer, Developer and Consultant, Regroove Solutions Inc.

Solution

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia reached out to Regroove Solutions as they had worked with them on a variety of projects dating back to 2014.

Regroove selected the Microsoft SharePoint framework as a Content Management System (CMS). This allowed the Legislative Assembly to store their massive content dataset inside a CMS they were already using for their Intranet.

This also allowed them to use their existing SharePoint accounts to grant people and departments access to specific areas of the site for content management. Using the same platform for the public website and Intranet website made integrating the two sites seamless and allowed information submitted through the public website to flow into their intranet system with ease.

SharePoint also allows their IT Department to test changes to public website in a test environment before pushing changes out live to the public.

Design

The Regroove development team performed a complete redesign of their public website into a search-driven responsive, mobile-first design.
They started by working with key stakeholders to understand the current landscape of their website architecture and then map out the proposed new design to meet their requirements.

Next Regroove’s developers designed a fixed top navigation menu with sub-menus tucked into expandable drawers. This fixed top menu helps the user stay orientated and move around quickly.

The team successfully imported all 200,00 pages of legacy data into the new system and made it compatible for consumption.

Regroove customized the SharePoint framework to give the website a modern look that did not look like a SharePoint site. Custom web elements were built specifically to display content dynamically in an expandable and collapsible accordion format.

Large, responsive Hero-style images using professional high-resolution photographs of architecture from around the Legislative building were used for a strong, cohesive visual experience. These images were optimized and paired with a semi-flat design for webpage loads in fractions of a second.

Coaching and Post Support

A crucial part of the project success was the inclusion of a series of content management coaching sessions. This helped the Legislative Assembly content team become comfortable through hands-on training in a demo environment. They were able to practice adding, modifying, and removing content, as well as using the custom web-parts to display content dynamically.

A digital procedural documentation handbook (“run book”) was created for the content team. This image-rich reference material covered all parts of content management on the public website. It also included step-by-step instructions for certain content updating processes that happened sporadically or annually.

On-site deskside support was also delivered to key content team members on the date of parliamentary changeover, an important and time-sensitive website publishing date. Desk side support ensured the public website remained accurate without publishing of new content prematurely.

Regroove organized numerous in-person meetings to liaise with key stakeholders throughout the project. This ensured everyone felt included and had their requirements captured. Continuous open and transparent communication across the organization kept everyone in sync and aware of their position in the project roadmap.

Hands-on training in a demo environment gave the content management team the space to practice and become comfortable with the new tools.

Kelly LaForest, Coach and Consultant, Regroove Solutions Inc.

Outcome and Benefits

Regroove kept all the stakeholders in sync, on track, and on the same page throughout the project.

The Legislative Assembly content team can publish the hundreds of daily content updates quickly and with confidence.

There are many free, online resources and documentation available for content managers and in-house IT professionals to continue to develop the site as needed.

Custom functionality is documented thoroughly in the digital procedural documentation run book.

Content team members can roll back to a previous version of a webpage should content be published in error or preemptively.

Pages load in less than a second despite displaying large banner images on every page.

The content management system slickly stores over 200,000 pages of archival data without any compatibility issues or historical data loss.

The website design is visually contemporary, and the content adjusts correctly in response to fit on any screen size from projector to smartphone.

The website navigation menu is clear and meets the needs of parliamentary power users and the public.

Screenshots:

This solution was built using:

  • Microsoft SharePoint