Size: 3 static template pages and approx 20 portlets

Government status: Government Department

My professional status: employee at Shift

Website client: Inland Revenue

Dates: March - June 2007

Categories: Website designer, Front-end developer, Govt web standards tester, CSS-based layout, e-govt/WCAG compliance, Other CMS, Government websites, Medium sites

Brief: Shift designed and built the KiwiSaver website in 2006, and the second phase, which was when I joined the project, was to enable online transactions.

My job, together with my colleague Ross Howard, was to style a full set of interactive KiwiSaver portlets with IRD styling (for those users entering via the IRD website) and to tweak and bug-fix portlets which had already been integrated into the system.

The job entailed working alongside the development team, working directly on the servers at IRD. In addition I built two new static HTML pages for the interactive part of the site, and designed and built a third page.

My responsibilities included:

  • Ongoing and detailed liaison with the client in order to achieve all their aims for the site, and to work through a wide range of technical and implementation issues with them
  • A certain amount of project-management, as this project was carried out on-site at IRD - in order to ensure that all client expectations were met, and that nothing was missed
  • Creation of a new CSS stylesheet for a set of portlets styled with the existing IRD look and feel, for users entering the site via the IRD website
  • Development and integration of a new header and footer for these portlets in CSS and HTML 4.01 Transitional
  • Integration and testing of the new stylesheet and portlets within the IRD system
  • Development of three static login pages in CSS and HTML 4.01 Transitional, and design of one of these
  • As far as possible with the re-skinned portlets, and fully with the static pages, coding to a high level of accessibility, following NZ e-government Guidelines
  • Extensive testing of the static pages at all stages of the development process, ensuring complete consistency across the following browsers and platforms:
    • PC: Internet Explorer 5.01, IE5.5, IE6, IE7; Firefox, Netscape, Opera
    • Mac: Firefox, Netscape, Opera, Safari
  • Ensuring that the new HTML and stylesheets had been validated using the W3C Markup Validation Service and that they conformed to HTML 4.01 Transitional requirements
  • Ongoing bug fixing and alteration of both sets of portlets, as the schematic went through a number of iterations and the portlets went through a number of rounds of testing. Once the portlets had been integrated into the system, I worked alongside the developers, identifying and fixing bugs and making the required changes.

This was a fascinating project, especially as much of the work was done on-site at IRD, and involved working very closely with the development team there. Ross and I were both on-call for this project, spending time at IRD when required, over a number of months.

I think for me the biggest challenge was the bug-fixing and portlet alteration once the portlets had been integrated. It's one thing to quietly get on with identifying and fixing bugs alone on your own computer (which always involves a good deal of experimentation and trying things out) and quite another when you're sitting next to a developer who's "driving" the machine, and you have to tell him what you think he needs to do in order to make the fixes! The development team were awesome to work with - and very patient!