New Zealand Netherlands Foundation

NZ Netherlands Foundation


Size: 19 template pages for an 80+ page website

My professional status: independent web designer/developer

Website client: New Zealand Netherlands Foundation

Dates: March - November 2012, with ongoing support and updates until December 2013

Categories: Scoping/pitching/quoting, Client liaison, Project manager, IA & UX, Website designer, Front-end developer, Writing for the web, Content-loader, CSS-based layout, jQuery/JavaScript, SilverStripe, Medium sites

Brief: the Foundation was established in 1990 with a wide-ranging brief to foster pride in the Dutch contribution to New Zealand. Its goals are to promote links between the Netherlands and New Zealand, to encourage the Dutch in New Zealand to keep their heritage alive through cultural and educational exchanges, and to celebrate the contribution the Dutch have made and continue to make to New Zealand's economic and social fabric.

Their existing website was rather basic and a bit old and tired, and needed updating - both in terms of design and information architecture, and also in terms of content. The Foundation were very keen to use their new website as the first step in creating a virtual community, where people who wish to explore and connect with their Dutch heritage can register and in doing so create a network for promoting activities with a Dutch flavour throughout New Zealand.

The NZNF asked us to quote for a completely new design, new HTML/CSS templates, and a new CMS. At the same time they took the opportunity to re-write and expand the content for the website, which we proof-read and edited for them. The structure and functionality of the website is focused on encouraging membership/registration, and also on sharing the stories of Dutch New Zealanders around the country.

Ali & Tom - thank you both for your efforts on getting me over the line on this deliverable. You are stars... Just so you know, the Board are very impressed with the website and love the clean lines etc.

Diane Horton, Executive Director, New Zealand Netherlands Foundation


  • Came up with and developed the idea of the "Our stories" section as a way of encouraging the New Zealand Dutch community to get involved and interact with the site
  • With a strong new information architecture and design, I was able to provide the client with a website that is substantially better than what they had before - and inspired/enabled them to write and add a large amount of new content to the site at the same time.

My responsibilities included:

  • Writing the proposal and quote for the website fixed-price contract
  • Creation and refinement of the information architecture and site schematics, including template wireframes and sitemap
  • Project management and ongoing liaison with Diane Horton at NZNF in order to achieve all her aims for the site, and to work through a range of technical and implementation issues with her
  • Project management of the WebWeaver team (myself and developer Tom St George) including the development of design/development timelines within a programme of work and ensuring that we achieved all our project milestones in a timely fashion
  • Design of the site - including the look & feel, graphics, and navigation - beginning with a couple of different designs in order to give the NZNF team an overview of two different design directions
  • Development of a set of 19 templates in pure CSS and XHTML 1.0 Transitional, which Tom then integrated into the SilverStripe CMS
  • Development of five of these templates as complex online forms (become a supporter, make a donation, share your story, advertise on the site, become a sponsor) based on the SilverStripe native form coding
  • Hand-coding in XHTML 1.0 Transitional to a high level of accessibility and e-government compliance
  • Incorporating dynamic graphical effects via jQuery - including accordions, stripey tables and a homepage photo switcher - and ensuring that these elements were still accessible when JavaScript was disabled
  • Building and styling a special set of templates for the "Our stories" section, in which video and audio files could be displayed, and where different story summaries would be randomly selected and featured in the section homepage
  • Extensive testing of the site at all stages of the development process, ensuring complete consistency across the following browsers and platforms:
    • Windows XP: Internet Explorer IE6, IE7, IE8, Firefox (latest)
    • Windows 7: IE9, Chrome (latest), Firefox (latest)
    • Mac OSX: Chrome (latest), Firefox (latest), Safari (latest)
  • The creation of a sitewide CSS print stylesheet also tested across the full range of browsers and operating systems
  • Ensuring that every template had been validated using the W3C Markup Validation Service and that it conformed to XHTML 1.0 Transitional requirements
  • Building the skeleton site in SilverStripe so that all the pages would be ready for Diane to input content quickly and efficiently
  • Training her to use the CMS, together with ongoing support as she developed her SilverStripe skills
  • Selecting and resizing a number of photographic images to be used on the site, and providing Diane with image editing training and support so that she could make her own images as well
  • Helping her to content-load the site within SilverStripe
  • Ongoing liaison with Diane, to ensure that the new templates and backend functionality were working as expected, and to provide additional HTML, CSS and content graphics as required
  • Carrying out a full content QA of the site once Diane had completed the content-loading, to ensure that all content was properly formatted and that the site was looking its best before go-live
  • Writing and editing some of the content myself, particularly during the QA process where I could see that it would be more efficient time-wise to do this rather than to make notes on what needed changing and then getting Diane to do it.

Diane, Tom and I go way back - she was General Manager at Shift when Tom and I worked there - so it was great to catch up with her and work together again.

The re-write was a pretty large project for Diane to tackle by herself, and I did as much as possible to support her and lighten the load. It's wonderful to see how much more info she's been able to collect and add to the website - it's gone from a dry handful of pages on the old site to a vibrant and interesting 80+ pages in the new site, with more to come. I think the Our stories section will be the key to getting the New Zealand Dutch community more involved - some of the stories that are already included on the site are really fascinating, and Diane was hopeful that she could increase this number over time.