Great websites integrate a great experience for both end-users as well as the team managing it! Meeting the needs of various audiences – the public, members and applicants – as well as building back-end functionality specialized to make the administration of the website simple and efficient was our goal with the redesign and rebuild of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers primary website. C(GROUP conducted activities to understand the needs of the different audience groups as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the current website content delivery to develop a strategy for the new site. Alongside the websites functional needs, C(GROUP sought to bring new life to the College’s website through an updated and unique user-interface.
The needs assessment identified the following key objectives for the new website:
- Improve flexibility to adjust to changing priorities
- Better audience access to resources/assets for
- WCAG 2.0 compliance
- Improve interactivity with the content to increase message absorption
- Amalgamation of FAQs and Resources
- Ease of use for site administrators
The site was rebuilt using WordPress as the content management system (CMS) with 12 highly efficient custom plug-ins built to address important unique functionality within the site. The plug-ins were built to be nimble and address specific needs of the College and therefore provide a significantly more streamlined administrative experience than out-of-the-box plug-ins. These plug-ins were paired with the custom designed front-end theme to integrate the College’s updated brand into all areas of the new website.
Additional specialized functionality was added for easily sharing important dates, contacts, quick links, related resources and related FAQs across the site from one back-end location in the CMS. C(GROUP streamlined the content input and management process by requiring updates in only one area and those changes automatically update across the entire site wherever they are present. C(GROUP also worked with WordPress’ new “Gutenberg Blocks” to allow for greater content styling and to enable the use of content topic grouping to call categories of posts into different pages such as COVID-19 related posts, annual meeting agenda details and groupings of council meeting content.
Other custom content styling and layout blocks such as accordions, callout boxes, headings and buttons helped make the content highly digestible. C(GROUP also developed a unique quiz-making plug-in, integrated with the website theme, to provide the College with opportunities to add quizzes anywhere on the site, adding a highly interactive way to engage users with content.
The College also launched an updated brand via the website. The overall look utilized fresh, new colours, a modern and highly readable type family and specific, unique graphic elements that are the new brand components. The new look is innovative and friendly and is all their own; setting the College apart from other regulatory colleges. The consistent application of the new brand throughout the website and web assets will create a highly recognizable brand that builds equity over time.
The College’s original website relied heavily on the use of PDFs, which typically causes issues with performance and accessibility. Additionally, PDFs are not searchable, which hinders search engine visibility. To solve this C(GROUP developed a custom post-type for information resources to enable the College to begin the process of migrating from the use of PDFs to more desirable HTML. This provides a migration plan and ensures information in the future will never be outdated. C(GROUP also added functionality to be able to tag resources in the repository that are similar so they can be served up as related content when a user is interested in a specific topic.
College members, the general public and applicants can now enjoy a more functional and easy-to-use website with accessible and highly customized content tailored specifically to their audience stream. The WordPress platform provides a solid, secure, and best-of-class CMS on which the College’s web communication strategy can be achieved. Its recent launch has significantly elevated the College’s web presence and positioned it as a model to other regulatory colleges in Ontario.