A strategic approach to digital

The redesign and development of New Plymouth District Council's digital presence

Taking Stock:

A website stock-take in 2017 showed the New Plymouth District Council it had:

  • 16 different websites
  • 6 different content management systems.
  • 3 different hosting environments

This added complexity for the council staff as new feature development was inefficient and costly, so a major website consolidation process was started.

 

 

Deciding on a digital platform

The first step was decide the hosting environment and content management system that all websites would be migrated to, the criteria included:

Hosting Platform

  • An industry standard hosting platform that the infrastructure team was already working with for other projects

Web Content Management System

  • Designed to run on the chosen hosting platform
  • Designed to be customised for those unique council situations
  • Designed to be easily integrated with other council systems including ARC GIS, Cemetery software, museum collections management, rating solutions, and more.
  • Uses industry standard development tools that were widely available
  • Open source
  • User friendly allowing both the communications team to construct beautiful pages or the council secretary to quickly add meetings, agendas and minutes.

Microsoft Azure and Umbraco

Microsoft Azure and the Umbraco Content Management System were chosen for their interoperability, flexibility, ease-of-use and longevity. A decision which has already saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on CMS licensing, hosting and development costs.

NPDC Corporate Website

Over the last four years the majority of websites have been upgraded to Umbraco including the most complex, the NPDC corporate website which was redeveloped in 2021.

Uniquely New Plymouth

The visual design brief for the new website was to:

  • Create something uniquely New Plymouth
  • Enhance the NPDC logo and brand
  • Friendly professionalism

To achieve this the Effect design team collaborated with several local artists and carvers to delve into the history of the district and surrounding land, as well as the carvings and art work in the council buildings.

These stories were then translated into digital design elements that could be applied to the navigation and components within the website.

A Collaborative Build

Working closely with a wide range of the council team, web components were carefully crafted to allowing the council .

The result is a purpose-built local government website that:

  • Makes life easy for the staff responsible for updating the website
  • Clearly communicates information to the community to enable quick decision making and self-service
  • Integrates with existing council software to minimise administrators' workload and increase accuracy and efficiency

Continuous Improvement

A council website is never finished, there is always strategic planning, LTP's, annual plans, rules and regulations that require clear and concise communication with the public.

The NPDC website build includes several exciting features to share feedback from the public and ensure information is up to date and relevant.