Size: approximately 600 online resources

Government status: Government Ministry

My professional status: contractor at Learning Media

Website client: Ministry of Health

Dates: January - June 2011, with the bulk of the work being carried out in May and June

Categories: Govt web standards tester, Writing for the web, Content-loader, CSS-based layout, e-govt/WCAG compliance, Drupal, E-commerce, Government websites, Large sites

Brief: to act as web editor during the development of the new HealthEd website (a restructure, re-design, and rebuild of an existing website). The new website had been designed by DNA, and was being built in Drupal 7 by Catalyst.

Learning Media was in charge of the content, and it was my job to ensure that all 600 resources were titled and described consistently and with Seach Engine Optimisation (SEO) in mind; that the 200+ resources with HTML versions were formatted correctly; and that Catalyst's build matched DNA's design pixel-perfectly.

Resources on the HealthEd website were available in Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Cambodian-Khmer, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Cook Islands Māori, English, Fijian, Gujarati, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Māori, Niuean, Persian (Farsi), Pushto Afghani, Sāmoan, Somali, Thai, Tokelauan, Tongan, Tuvaluan and Vietnamese.

Ali - just wanted to say thanks heaps and heaps for your work and your guidance on the project. Thanks to the team for your massive contribution turning this project into a success for Learning Media and the Ministry of Health.

Anita Jones, Digital Project Manager/Advisor, Learning Media

My responsibilities included:

  • Providing feedback to Learning Media on the information architecture developed by DNA, mainly in terms of usability and the "logic" of the site architecture
  • Planning with Learning Media the most effective way of approaching the resource formatting process for the 200+ resources that required an HTML version on the website as well as a PDF download
  • Developing a strategy with Learning Media and producing a set of guidelines on how closely we should strive to replicate the printed version of each resource - taking into consideration the Ministry of Health's formatting and display requirements, the project's time and budgetary constraints, and practical considerations of the capability of both Drupal to display and future web editors to format complex print documents
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) of all 600 resources, including:
    • adding keywords within the text of all descriptions, and re-writing these descriptions where necessary
    • creating and implementing a set of rules and naming conventions for how resource titles, descriptions, PDF links and introductory summaries would be written and formatted
    • creating and implementing a set of rules for how different language versions of the same resource would be identified - including title, description, PDF links and introductory text; and sharing these rules with the rest of the editing team to ensure that multi-language resources across the site would be identified and labelled consistently
  • Record-keeping of my progress through the 600 resources in the enormous Google Doc process table developed by the very wonderful Cara at Learning Media
  • Doing a second round of formatting for the 200+ resources on the site which had an HTML version as well as a PDF for download - the first formatting round already having been completed by Cara:
    • Formatting headers, intro text, and sub-headers to match the original print version as closely as possible
    • Formatting tabular data where it appeared within a resource, and ensuring that the formatting I chose would enable the table to be displayed in the (fairly narrow) content column within the design
    • Formatting other text-based elements such as bulleted and ordered lists, form fields, and blockquotes - to match the original print version as closely as possible
    • Formatting images included within the resource to match the original print version as closely as possible
  • Checking the resource collection for double-ups and recording these in the Google Doc so that they could be combined and/or deleted
  • Proof-reading the 200+ HTML resources in the following languages:
    • Cook Islands Māori
    • English
    • Fijian
    • Māori
    • Niuean
    • Sāmoan
    • Tokelauan
    • Tongan
    • Tuvaluan
  • Proof-reading and correcting the titles, descriptions, summaries, keywords, and introductory text of all 600 resources as I made changes and updates to them - to ensure site-wide consistency as well as correctness
  • Ongoing PixelPerfect testing of the website resource pages as the site was being built and integrated into Drupal, to ensure that the finished website would display exactly as DNA had designed it
  • Ongoing bug-testing of the website resource pages as the site was being built and integrated into Drupal and recording these bugs in Bugzilla; together with online bug-fixing using Firebug which I then forwarded to the Drupal developers at Catalyst
  • Ongoing feedback to the Catayst developers as we began using the Drupal interface to edit the resources - making suggestions for usability improvements to the editing environment, and making requests for various elements to be added to this interface to make life easier for the website's future web editors
  • Ongoing feedback to the Catalyst developers about the way that auto-generated content should be displayed on the various section homepages and search results pages within the website
  • Being an e-govt compliance and accessibility advocate at all stages of the process
  • Creation in Photoshop of a large number of new resource thumbnail images, and the development of a set of guidelines for how landscape and portrait thumbnails should be displayed at various levels throughout the website.

This was a mega-project in terms of the number of resources we had to edit and format, and the range of languages in which we were required to proof-read. It was also a fairly complex multi-agency production process (DNA, Learning Media and Catalyst all working together as a team), which always makes for an interesting project!

The Learning Media crew were great to work with, especially Anita our project manager who kept this massive project on-track and Cara my fellow web editor who inputted a huge amount of raw content onto the website and then did the first round of formatting. It was also great to catch up with the DNA crew again, especially April and Charlene with whom I have worked before, both at DNA and Shift (it's a small world!).

This was my second Drupal site (the first being WellingtonNZ with Chrometoaster) - and to be honest I'm not wildly impressed with the CMS. I think the editing interface is somewhat non-intuitive for anyone who's not a programmer (Where's the site tree? Where'd my page go?); the integration produces an enormous amount of bloated HTML code due to Drupal 7's contextual editing facility; and the integration process seems to take quite a bit longer than some other CMSs I've worked with, such as SilverStripe.

Testing a website while it's still being integrated is not a great idea, as we discovered, because display elements can change on a daily basis, and something that looked fine yesterday can be (temporarily) broken today, and fixed again tomorrow.

DNA, Learning Media and Catalyst did a brilliant job with both the overall project and their various responsibilities within it, in what was a pretty full-on project at time - mainly due, I think, to the constraints of the CMS and the tight timeframe that required us to be inputting content, editing, formatting, testing and proof-reading while the integration process was still going on.

It was a fantastic end-product, and one of which the various teams can be proud. The Ministry of Health and their clients loved it, and their feedback was extremely positive.