Simplicity is beautiful and content is king

Office of the Government Chief Information Officer

What do people want when they visit a government website? A beautiful layout? A unique design with awesome branding? Chances are they have visited the website to find something specific and easily, or to complete a transaction quickly and then leave. For government websites, simplicity is beautiful and content is king.

To help agencies create more user-focused websites, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) has developed the Visual Design and Functional Standard and the Western Australian Government Website Style Standard.

The standards are available for use by any public authority to maximise benefits to the community. They are optional for government advertising campaigns and Government Trading Enterprises and mandatory for all agencies under Premier’s Circular 2016/03 Mandatory Implementation of Whole of Government Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy and Associated Policies.

Mr Simon Korzec, Director of Digital Services, said the standards establish a clear design and style for agency websites to support a ‘one-government’ user experience.

‘Common layouts and styles among agency websites create a sense of familiarity that allows people to see features displayed as they would expect, helping them navigate different sites easily as well as creating trust. The design simplifies user tasks and places a greater emphasis on the content. Staff will spend less time and money experimenting with the layout and can focus more on content and other features that will improve the user experience. Populating a website with too many details or features makes it easy to lose sight of what’s important and overshadows the need for government websites to be inclusive and accessible,’ Mr Korzec said.

Other benefits, such as better accessibility between devices, faster loading times and reduced design costs, are also realised with a simplified design.

The whole-of-government digital services website WA.gov.au has applied these standards. Other WA Government websites, including the New Industries Fund and the WA Industry Link have also applied these standards. The OGCIO’s website is currently being aligned to these standards.

Agencies must apply these standards when:

  • developing any new public facing website
  • there is significant redevelopment of an existing website including rebranding, restructure or major enhancements
  • transitioning to a new platform (technology) or content management system.

The Visual Design and Functional Standard and the Western Australian Government Website Style Standard are available on the OGCIO’s website, including frequently asked questions.

These standards are part of a suite of related documents being developed in consultation with cross-agency working groups. These additional documents will further support the delivery of better quality government websites and will be released in the next few months.