Following closely on the heels of a successful implementation of their intranet using EPiServer content management, the Northland Regional Council (NRC) turned its attention to their public website. Like many internet sites, it reflected the vintage of its 1995 development, using Dreamweaver and involving lots of inefficient manual processes, and static HTML and PDF documents.
Few at NRC had knowledge of the system and its quirks, and it was strategic to reduce the risk in terms of the limited numbers of people who could use the system. In contrast, many users across the Council, from communications to management teams and front line staff, could become fast and competent adopters of the EPiServer way of working.
The existing NRC internet had outgrown its architecture, in terms of both design and accessibility. As a strong tourism region, it was an opportunity to impart an innovative local flavour to regional information, council services, and visitor information, delivering the character of destination Northland.
“Little did we know that the NRC internet would be tested in its first week of operation with a deluge of traffic, as we sought to deliver rapid Civil Defence information, as the region coped with its second devastating one in a hundred year flood.” Tracey Morris, Online Communications Officer, Northland Regional Council.
Previous exposure to EPiServer gave NRC confidence.
Having developed NRC’s intranet site, Intergen had laid the groundwork for a swift build of the internet site, working with the new design parameters presented by SWIFT design group. Familiarity within NRC about what was possible with EPiServer meant that the project had extremely clear goals and content management processes in mind. For example, smarter archiving was one of the tools that Tracey Morris made a priority. Initially a small team of users would publish on the NRC internet site, with distributed publishing possible in the future.
A team of three Intergen developers was able to turn the site around in around three months, with acceptance testing phases going well. NRC’s Tracey Morris attributes the much of the progress to the on-line eyetrack system of testing to find issues and fixing any arising challenges.
“Through developing the intranet, Intergen had previous knowledge of our working processes, so knew what parameters would be important for us. They got the flow of the project going as quickly as possible, everything was well planned, well executed and fell into place smoothly. Their project management was awesome. If we did come across issues that needed addressing, Intergen really thought outside the square in terms of getting it right.”
The decision was made to put the hosting of the site into Intergen’s hands, with NRC preferring the certainty of assistance, and the reliability of comprehensive back up and recovery systems in place.
NRC’s new internet was tested beyond expectations in its first weeks of going live as floods swept the Northland region. Thousands sought information as the home page adopted a vital civil defence role. The site was able to perform fast and efficiently as new information, photos, and valuable links were provided to the public. “Within half an hour we had a whole new home page dedicated to the storm.”
While immediate publishing was to the fore, NRC’s internet will continue to deliver a list of positive outcomes:
- Excellent scope and flexibility for content editing, archiving and pre-authoring
- Clear, good design and navigation makes an information rich site very accessible
- A new window to Northland, with links to the environment, people, economic and tourism face of the region
- Very positive feedback from the public
A successful project from start to finish, NRC now has a website that is responsive to the region’s needs, as tested by the recent civil defence emergency. EPiServer has once again proved its value in terms of content management and efficiency.