Nelson City council

NCC needed a site that easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, reliable, flexible, easy for NCC's 250 staff and contractors to maintain, able to handle large amounts of content, and scalable so it can grow and be extended. The website acts like a virtual council branch to its diverse users, so service delivery is central to the site

Nelson City Council (NCC) is one of only five unitary authorities in New Zealand. (Unitary authorities combine city and regional council government in a single-tier local government.) NCC's dual role means that their website must address a diverse set of audiences, including the 44,000 residents and ratepayers in Nelson, visitors from New Zealand and overseas, businesses, and community organisations. These visitors come to the site to find information and services, including council news and events, online services, such as paying rates or searching cemetery records, and ways to submitting consultations or report a problem.

What we did

  • We migrated the NCC website from Dreamweaver to SilverStripe CMS.
  • We created information architecture, wireframes and interaction design.
  • We integrated a visual design provided by a third-party designer.
  • We gave support to Nelson City Council staff and their contractors in the integration and rebranding of legacy features, such as a property database and cemetery records database.
  • We customised a number of features to fit NCC's specific requirements, including an events calendar, a services directory, and a library section.
  • We set up sub-sites which have their own visual style and can all be managed through a single CMS interface.
  • We set up an online payment facility for seven separate services, including rates, parking fines, and resource consents.
  • We implemented a new search engine that produces highly relevant results, offers suggestions ("did you mean...") and displays smart excerpts for better context on the results page.
  • We migrated all existing content from the old to the new site.
  • We provided in-person CMS user training and client tailored documentation.
  • We managed the deployment and provided ongoing support and hosting.

What users can do now

  • Users can easily find information since we have revised the site structure, and provided multiple wayfinding options. For example, users looking for council services can:
  • Look for a service based on their goal ("I want to...")
  • View all online services at a glance.
  • See a list of all common services.
  • Find a service in the A-Z index.
  • Use the powerful site search engine to search by keywords.
  • Users pay for services online.
  • Users engage directly with the council through web forms.

Measures of success

  • The website received a positive reception from internal staff and the public.
  • We contributed the work we've done for the council back into the open source SilverStripe project.
  • We met the initial goals of the project, which were:
    • Create a fresh new design to get favourable reaction.
    • Shift the site focus to increased service delivery.
    • Implement integrated subsites.
    • Include the capacity to add new features and service delivery.

View this Case Study as a pdf

Related work

SilverStripe has also built a number of other New Zealand Council websites, including:

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