Supporting New Zealanders access to information during a global pandemic
When COVID-19 hit New Zealand’s shores, the All-of-Government response to COVID-19 needed a website that could act as a single source of truth for all the information the government was providing to keep our team of 5 million safe and informed. They called on Silverstripe to use our years of experience in developing and hosting government websites to support the design and development of the Unite Against COVID-19 website. Through the work already done by Clemenger Group and Voyage as a framework, our team were able to provide the All-of-Government response with a full-service experience to get the website redesigned, redeveloped, and securely hosted as soon as possible.
With over 700,000,000 hits on the site since we took over the project in late March, the combined effort between the All-of-Government response and Silverstripe on the Unite Against COVID-19 website has successfully enabled New Zealanders to access the information they needed quickly during a time of crisis.
When the project was handed over to Silverstripe, our team immediately got to work to redesign and redevelop the Unite Against COVID-19 website. It took just 48 hours from our briefing for the team to start implementing the new designs and features to the Unite Against COVID-19 site.
Taking an Agile approach to the project meant that we were able to quickly adapt to the evolving situation and associated needs for the website. It went through constant iterations of design and development so that new features could be implemented when they were required. With everyone working remotely, working alongside a skilled and responsive client made all the difference. The team at Silverstripe was receiving constant feedback to redesign elements of the website and changes were often deployed to production as soon as they were ready—sometimes multiple times per day—to continuously improve the user experience of the site. This was possible thanks to our public sector cloud hosting, Silverstripe Cloud (AWS), and the Continuous Integration framework that our team implemented from early on.
The Unite Against COVID-19 website was designed and built using multiple flexible content blocks that could be used across both sites. Using a modular content structure means that their content team can take advantage of drag-and-drop functionality that gives them the freedom to structure the content on the page how they want to. As each section of the website went through intensive review by DIA, the site is not only beautifully designed but also upholds the New Zealand Government’s web accessibility standards.
Using Silverstripe CMS, the team at the All-of-Government response were able to use the Campaigns feature, allowing content teams to preload content into the CMS in draft form which was then bulk published across the entire website at the push of a button. This element of the CMS gave the content team the flexibility to prepare information that needed to be on the COVID-19 site, ready to be published as soon as the announcements were made during the daily press conferences to ensure that New Zealanders had all the information they needed at their fingertips.
With information that New Zealanders needed to access every day, the All-of-Government response was faced with a major challenge for their website. It had to be able to withstand tens of thousands of people landing on the website at the same time.
To ensure that their website would remain stable when there was a huge uptake in traffic, they were hosted on our managed cloud offering for the public sector, Silverstripe Cloud (AWS), which is optimised for Silverstripe CMS. The sites were heavily cached to make sure that they could accommodate New Zealanders wanting to get the information they need as quickly as possible, such as during the daily press conferences where website traffic would increase from a baseline of around 400 requests per second up to 6,000 requests per second.
In the two and a half months since the website moved to our public sector cloud hosting, the website has served 700 million hits to 24 million visitors and has served 9.4TB of content at a maximum throughput of 495Mbps (measured at the 95th percentile).
Silverstripe successfully provided an accessible, responsive, and beautifully functional website that stays up and running during times of high traffic. People are able to see the latest updates on COVID-19 in New Zealand with a new and improved user experience that empowers them to stay up-to-date and engaged during a global pandemic.
We’d also like to acknowledge the hard work invested by SiteHost and Voyage for providing the hosting and initial development of the initial Unite Against COVID-19 website prior to it being managed by Silverstripe.
- UX & design
- Front and back end web development
- Dedicated testing resource
- Ongoing UX & UI discussions
- Project Management
- Solution Architect consultation
- Programme Management
- Account Management
- Managed cloud hosting
- 24/7 New Zealand-based support