Government web standards

Govt.nz screenshot

Govt.nz - design, front-end development, some IA/UX and a whole lot of accessibility compliance for this responsive website built in HTML5 and CSS3/SASS for the government's new Common Web Platform in SilverStripe

Formerly known as e-govt compliance, and includes designing and building websites that conform to the Government Web Standards, as well as testing other people's websites to see if they meet the requirements and guidelines.

I've been building websites for government since I worked on the Hillary Commission's website back in 1997. Back then, there wasn't much in the way of guidance or requirements for accessibility, and all websites were built using pretty much the same set of standards, whether or not they were for government.

The first government site I built that had an accessibility requirement was for the Ministry of Transport in 2001. Since then, I've become something of an e-govt and web accessibility standards specialist, and I really enjoy helping government departments to achieve or exceed the standards with their websites.

I also believe that all websites should be accessible to everyone, not just government ones, and so I include a range of accessibility elements in all the websites I design and build.

See case studies of all my Government websites. This page lists those sites I've played a part in developing and/or designing that come under the umbrella of "Government" sites. This includes websites for New Zealand Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Crown Research Institutes, Crown Enterprises, State-Owned Enterprises and Crown Entities.

I aim to meet or exceed all e-government accessibility requirements at level AA (based on WCAG 2.0) for all my government websites. The Government Web Standards state that "Application of this Standard is mandatory for all Public Service departments and Non-Public Service departments in the State Services". Crown Entities, State-Owned Enterprises and Local Government are not mandated to adhere to these standards, but are asked to support the spirit of the Standards by seeking to comply - so I build the same level of e-government accessibility I would include in a Government Ministry website.

I also do contract work testing other people's websites to ensure that they have reached the required Government Web Standards. I'm still shocked at the number of Government sites that have been built by design companies who claim to understand "accessibility" and yet which display basic errors such as a lack of colour contrast or a failure to use semantically correct code. There's a long way to go before all our government websites adhere to the web standards, but I like to think I'm doing my bit to help us get there.

Alison - Thank you so much for your careful, considered work in a complex and difficult environment... You opened up conversation around design in a way that was never possible previously. You are excellent at taking a 'non-precious' approach to your work while simultaneously being able to calmly argue your point. You're very good at what you do and I'd hire you again in a heartbeat.

Jared Gulian, Govt.nz project owner and Principal Advisor, Digital Engagement, Department of Internal Affairs (Govt.nz project, 2013-2014)

Ali, you've done an excellent job with the Govt.nz work. I've seen the enthusiasm and skill that you have displayed during the demos that you've shown me as the site has continued to develop with public input throughout.

The combined design and development experience that you have contributed have been important during this phase - from the fonts, the layouts, the prints, the brand signature, to setting the government directory in a way that makes it easy for people to navigate their way through the new site.

I also appreciate your adaptability as challenges came up, right down to the wire with the latest changes on the brand signature - thank you for being so responsive. This project has been more than creating a new citizen-entry site and experience - it has also been challenging the way government operates in delivering and promoting an online service.

Very best wishes for your next venture, and I hope that we connect again.

Laura Sommer, General Manager (Acting), Government Information Services, Department of Internal Affairs (Govt.nz project, 2013-2014)