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					                                                                                                             Website Best Practices Guide
                                                             Section 2.6
                                                    Website Best Practices Guide


                              1.0 Introduction
    Keeping Nova              This guide is aimed at assisting municipal governments in the
    Scotia                    development of new websites and updating existing sites. The topics
    municipalities in         and concepts provided in this guide are based on research into industry
    the forefront of          best practices and on lessons learned from municipalities who have
    e-government              developed municipal websites over the past few years.

                              1.1 Background
                              Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations (SNSMR) retained
                              Unisys Canada to prepare a report on best practices and considerations
                              for design, development and maintenance of municipal websites. This
                              guide is based on that report.

                              1.2 How to use this guide
                              This guide is intended to provide the following:

                              •        Lists of services and functions to consider including on a
                                       municipal website,

                              •        a guide to the process of design, development and operation of
                                       a website,

                              •        checklists for each step of the process of developing and
                                       upgrading a site.

                              This guide has been designed to be used to begin the process of
                              introducing a new website or to grow and expand an existing website.


                              2.0 Municipal Websites
                              In recent years the online presence of municipalities has grown from
                              simply offering basic information to providing easy access to
                              municipal services online. At the same time, financial pressures have
                              limited the available budgets for municipalities to use in developing
                              and maintaining those online services. Expectations are constantly
                              growing for improved accessibility to the number and variety of
                              services offered online from governments at all levels.




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                              2.1 Functions of a Municipal Website
    Websites are an           At the most basic level, a municipal website is a tool for sharing
    important tool for        information on a municipality with residents and the general public. A
    municipalities            website may also provide an effective way to market a municipality to
                              prospective visitors and new businesses. The “brand” displayed on the
                              website, the types of information and services provided, and the way
                              in which information is organized, may be an indication (rightly or
                              wrongly) of the level of professionalism offered by a municipality.

                              Basic functions of a municipal website may be similar from one
                              municipality to another. For example any municipal website should
                              offer information on the municipality itself, it’s location, number of
                              residents, major industries or attractions, and contact information so
                              that visitors to the site may contact municipal officials for further
                              information. However, in some cases there may be additional features
                              such as “podcasts” or online broadcasts of council meetings to allow
                              citizens an opportunity to watch their elected officials at work.
                              The selection of what information and services to provide via a
                              website is a decision for each municipality to make based on factors
                              such as budget, available staff resources for maintaining the site, and
                              the demand for online services by residents. Some possible additional
                              services to consider including on your municipal website are discussed
                              in this guide and in Section 6.4 of the Local Government Resource
                              Handbook.


                              2.2 Potential visitors to your website
    Who will be               In deciding what services and information to provide online, it is
    using your                helpful to have some understanding of who the potential visitors to the
    site?                     website will be, and what particular types of information or online
                              services they may be looking for.

                              Some potential visitors include:
                              •     residents,
                              •     residents of neighbouring municipalities,
                              •     businesses within the community,
                              •     potential investors / businesses in other municipalities,
                              •     tourists,
                              •     researchers,
                              •     the media,
                              •     municipal employees and elected officials,
                              •     staff and elected officials of other municipalities,
                              •     Provincial and/or Federal Government, and
                              •     school children.


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                              Information and services can be specifically geared to each particular
                              type of visitor and some preliminary planning can assist in meeting the
                              individual needs of each type of visitor. Visitors to a municipal
                              website may be wishing to find schedules for the latest recreation
                              classes, an email link to council members, profile of the latest crime
                              stats in their neighbourhood, and in the future they may be signing up
                              for personalized electronic government in order to receive automatic
                              notifications when a zoning change is made that could affect their
                              property, or when a crime has been committed in their neighbourhood.


                              2.3 Benefits and Challenges
    Benefits and              The benefits of a municipal website are varied, and to a large extent,
    challenges of a           depend on the types of services provided..
    municipal website
                              Some of the benefits that can be expected from developing a web
                              presence for the municipality include:

                              •        reduced calls to municipal offices for simple inquiries, and the
                                       ability of the municipality to provide more detailed
                                       information (including graphics and photos) on topics that are
                                       frequently asked about,

                              •        websites provide a relatively cost-effective marketing tool
                                       aimed at tourists thinking about visiting the municipality as
                                       well as businesses that may be considering relocating to the
                                       area,

                              •        improved customer service providing access to information
                                       about the municipality 24 hours a day, seven days a week,

                              •        access to municipal information is available to residents and
                                       visitors without the need for physically coming to the
                                       municipal office or phoning , and

                              •        municipalities with well thought out websites provide
                                       improved visibility and helps to provide transparency and
                                       increased confidence in local governments. Visitors may
                                       access council meeting minutes, staff reports, by-laws, zoning
                                       information etc. all on the municipal website.


                              Some potential challenges:
                              •     Budgetary constraints may limit:


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                                       •         the types of services offered on the website,

                                       •         the municipality’s ability to continually evolve and
                                                 update the website.

                                       •         the municipality’s ability to provide sufficient staff and
                                                 resources to support the services offered on the website,
                                                 and

                                       •         the ongoing availability of technical resources and staff
                                                 to assist in the design, development, and ongoing
                                                 maintenance and operation of the website.

                              •        Keeping website information up to date to ensure visitors will
                                       have a high level of confidence in the accuracy and relevance
                                       of the information and services provided.

                              •        The digital divide in some areas may be a determining factor in
                                       deciding what services will be offered, particularly when those
                                       services may have to be duplicated in hard copy for those
                                       residents and visitors not able to access computers or the
                                       internet.

                              •        The type of internet service may determine what kinds of
                                       graphics etc. included on the site. High speed internet access
                                       may not yet be available to all areas, and may not be readily
                                       accessible to your target audience. If dial-up service is the
                                       only way for residents to access the website, then graphics
                                       should be kept at a minimum to reduce download times.

                              •        As new information and services are introduced on the website,
                                       the expectations of the target audience may grow faster than
                                       the municipality’s ability to keep pace with expectations.


                              2.4 Evolution of a Municipal Website
    The website should        A successful website is not a static entity. Once the site is created, it
    be continually            will immediately become apparent that there are new items that you
    evolving                  might wish to incorporate into the design, and other items which will
                              require frequent updates. An essential aspect of a web presence is to
                              be accurate, up to date and relevant. Some considerations for evolving
                              a website include:




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                              •        Develop a website strategy or plan for the long term, and
                                       review the plan at regular intervals (yearly) to ensure that the
                                       website is relevant and is meeting the municipality’s needs.

                              •        Start small and keep it simple.

                              •        Clarify the “wants” from the “needs”.

                              •        Identify items that will be most essential. Such as:
                                            • contact information for administrative staff, department
                                               heads, councillors, mayor, etc
                                            • phone numbers for fire, police, public works depts.
                                            • press releases and other news or important
                                               announcements,
                                            • maps, directories, demographics and other relative
                                               information.

                              •        Ensure that all information is kept accurate, up-to-date, and
                                       relevant,

                              •        Provide a forum for visitors to the site to offer feedback on the
                                       information and services provided. This can be a valuable tool
                                       when updating or adding additional services. Such feedback
                                       will identify when:
                                        •      the information on the site may need to be updated, or
                                               corrected,
                                        •      new or different information is required,
                                        •      additional services to residents and visitors can or
                                               should be added to the site, and
                                        •      planning revisions to the site. Having access to such
                                               feedback information will enable the municipality to
                                               prioritize the planned upgrades to the site to meet
                                               demand, and will assist in planning the budget for
                                               website updates in the most effective manner.


                              3.0 Technology and Information
                              A website initiative must take into account all stakeholders and
                              potential users. The diagram below illustrates how a website may
                              address the needs of municipal councillors, staff constituents,
                              press/media, potential visitors to your municipality and other users.


                              When planning a new website, or preparing to update a current
                              website, there are four distinct areas of consideration. Addressing each


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                              of these areas will help to ensure that resources are not focussed on
                              one element to the detriment of other areas of importance.

                              •        Website Lifecycle – This will guide you through the phases of
                                       a website project from conception through operation and
                                       finally redesign, and can help with the process of introducing a
                                       website into municipal operations.


                              •        Website Inventory – An inventory will include the potential
                                       services and technology that may be included in the site. An
                                       inventory can contain not only a listing of the information and
                                       services that are essential but can also contain a wish list of
                                       future services etc. that may be introduced at a later date.

                              •        Website Organization and Design – The overall design of the
                                       site, and the way information and services are organized and
                                       accessed is crucial in providing visitors with an accessible and
                                       useful site.

                              •        Overall Considerations – A guide through a specific topics that
                                       may be overarching in nature and can determine the success
                                       and usefulness of the site.




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                        3.1 Website Lifecycle - The Beginnings
    Where to start with Starting the process of creating a new website (or introducing
    your website        significant modifications to an existing website) can be intimidating.
                        In beginning to examine your website and operations, consider the life
                        cycle shown and described above.

                              Throughout the initiative the overall vision and strategy envisioned for
                              the website should be kept in mind. Keeping the vision and strategy
                              foremost in mind will not only guide the creation or modification
                              process of the website, but will also guide developers over the long
                              term. Any website project should begin with a needs analysis to
                              determine what information and services should be provided. Once a
                              needs analysis has been completed, then discuss specific requirements
                              and begin to design the site. Include each of the categories of potential
                              visitors, identified earlier, in the needs analysis to ensure that the
                              website fulfills all of the intended functions.

                              The needs analysis is the basis for the website development team to
                              work with the designer to include all the essentials in website design.

                              As the site is being developed, each individual function, link and
                              document should be thoroughly tested prior to any release of the
                              website. Have the site reviewed by staff prior to going online to
                              ensure information is correct, links and services work as expected, and
                              that all aspects of the website meet requirements.

                              Once the site has been thoroughly tested, it’s time to “go live” and
                              bring the website online. At this point it is useful to test the site again
                              to ensure that all the functions are operating as expected. Once the site
                              is deployed, there will be ongoing maintenance required to ensure
                              information and services remain relevant and up to date, and to allow
                              for the introduction of other changes. The lifecycle of a website
                              involves continuous change, not only in what functions or services the
                              site has to offer visitors, but changes in design, strategy, and overall
                              appearance as well.

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                              The lifecycle above can be thought of and used in one of two ways:
                              •       To gather your thoughts and enable the planning of a larger-
                                      scale, multiple service/technology introduction (i.e. a full-scale
                                      introduction of a municipal website)
                              •       To gather your thoughts and enable the planning of a single
                                      service/technology update to an existing website.

                              More detailed explanations and examples of each stage as well as
                              detailed checklists for considerations at each stage of the lifecycle are
                              provided in Section 4 of this guide.


                              3.2 Website Inventory
    What to include in        Before considering introducing a new website or adding new
    the website               technologies and services into an existing website, examine the
                              possibilities. Section 5 contains a comprehensive list of potential
                              services and technologies that could be included in a website. Use this
                              list to begin the discussion of the needs and requirements that are
                              unique to your situation. Examine other sources for ideas about
                              potential services. Review websites from other municipalities from
                              around the world, and also check out other levels of government, as
                              well as the private sector.


                              3.3 Website Organization and Design
    Tailor the site for       There are a number ways a municipal website can be organized. From
    the primary users         a usability perspective, the following examples may provide a suitable
                              template to follow to organize information by:

                              •        type of user visiting the website (target audience) for example,
                                       citizen, business, visitor/tourist.

                              •        type/classification of information (e.g. meeting minutes, maps
                                       and directions, contact information, municipal services, etc.).

                              •        frequency by which it is accessed (sometimes this is a useful
                                       format for a number of items that are accessed on a regular
                                       basis by visitors, such as news items that are updated on a daily
                                       basis, and

                              •        services such as tax billing, permits, parking fines etc.

                              The design of a website needs to be clear and easily navigable for all
                              potential users. The first page, or home page, should be clear and
                              concise and provide user friendly navigation tools to allow for ease of

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                              accessing information. This will be dealt with in further detail in
                              Section 6 of this guide.


                              3.4 Overall Considerations
                              The following concepts relate to a number of stages in the lifecycle of
                              a website as well as to a number of services in the inventory. These
                              concepts will be more fully explored in Section 7.

                              •        cost – potential costs broken down into those associated with
                                       development, deployment and the ongoing operation of a
                                       website,

                              •        usability/accessibility – tips on how to ensure a website is
                                       usable by visitors and some additional reference material
                                       concerning accessibility,

                              •        location – a checklist of considerations to ensure the website
                                       can be found with relative ease,

                              •        guidelines - options for creating or modifying a website,

                              •        hosting and operation - an outline of options for hosting a
                                       website and some guidelines to it’s operation,

                              •        policy development – key policies for publishing to a
                                       municipal website and some policies around the use of the
                                       site,

                              •        security – Municipal websites may manage sensitive
                                       information, and this section will provide considerations
                                       relative to securing information resources,

                              •        backup and recovery – As users rely more heavily on the
                                       website, backup and recovery of information becomes a critical
                                       factor in allowing long term access to those records and
                                       information,

                              •        business continuity/risk management - techniques to adapt to
                                       technological problems if and when they arise,

                              •        legislative requirements - an overview of legislative
                                       considerations involving the Freedom of Information and
                                       Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) and it’s implications,


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                              •        records retention - policies and procedures for the retention of
                                       electronic records generated for and maintained on your
                                       website,

                              •        visitor support – a checklist of support considerations to deal
                                       with issues involving visitors to the site,

                              •        growth and extensibility – maximize return on investment by
                                       ensuring that technologies and products purchased (or
                                       outsourced to a service provider) can grow and support
                                       operations over the long term,

                              •        technology support – considering technology requirements
                                       allows for smart purchasing, minimal support costs, and long
                                       term usability,

                              •        vendors – tips on how to successfully engage and secure
                                       services from vendors, and

                              •        benefits of sharing – adopting a strategy of sharing resources
                                       with other municipalities during a website project and in the
                                       ongoing operations of a website.


                              4.0 Website Lifecycle - The Beginnings
    What are the basic        Starting the process of upgrading a website or introducing a new
    requirements?             website is a daunting task. There are budget and time line pressures,
                              and the resistance to change to deal with. In addition, there are
                              challenges inherent in determining what you might need or want the
                              website to accomplish as well as research and analysis prior to
                              selecting the technology required to accomplish your goals. The
                              following checklist may help determine the requirements of a website
                              project.

                              4.1 Vision and strategy
                              Establishing a vision and setting a strategy for accomplishing that
                              vision will provide continuity and ensure that the project continues on
                              course through to completion.

                              •        Begin with a vision of what the final product should
                                       accomplish. Prepare a document such as a project charter
                                       which will define the parameters of the project, establish a
                                       time-line for completion, and identify the persons responsible
                                       for accomplishing each phase of the project.


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                              •        Outline the reasons for the website upgrade or the introduction
                                       of a new website to ensure that each of the driving forces
                                       behind the project are met in the final product. These driving
                                       forces could be branding the municipality; providing
                                       information for tourists, businesses, residents; providing on-
                                       line services to these groups etc. This outline will guide the
                                       decision making process as the project unfolds.

                              •        Select a champion for the website project. A key success
                                       factor in any major project can be having an individual who
                                       “owns” the project and is a visionary who can bring the project
                                       from the beginning strategy setting stage to the launch. A
                                       champion will ensure continued progress despite difficulties
                                       along the way.

                              •        Determine who should be part of the project team.
                                       •     What level of participation will be required from staff,
                                             council, information technology personnel, community
                                             groups, businesses or organizations within the
                                             community.
                                       •     Ensure that each project team member understands
                                             what is expected of them and what their role will be in
                                             the initiative

                              •        Hold strategic planning sessions early in the process with team
                                       members to establish project goals and set time frames for
                                       completion of each step in the process.

                              •        Establish a reasonable budget and determine priorities
                                       including:
                                       •       technology requirements,
                                       •       consulting services,
                                       •       marketing and promotion, and
                                       •       incidental expenses (see section 7.1 for more detailed
                                               potential expenditures).

                              •        Inventory available resources, human resource, technology, etc
                                       and have a contingency plan to fill in any gaps that may prove
                                       crucial to the overall success of the project.

                              •        Establish some performance measures for the website. These
                                       performance measures can help in the ongoing management
                                       and operation of the site in the future. Some examples of
                                       performance measures include:
                                       •       number of unique website visits (per day/month/year),

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                                       •         number of times each individual page has been
                                                 accessed, and
                                       •         customer feedback (eg. online survey) to measure
                                                 satisfaction levels with the site over time.

                              •        Identify potential visitors to the site and determine how you
                                       can best meet the needs of those visitors, (eg. visitor
                                       information, municipal by-laws, etc.

                              •        Link the website to the municipality’s existing communication
                                       strategy.

                              •        Identify the business processes which you may consider
                                       providing online. For example, do you envision providing
                                       transactional capability online such as, paying taxes, applying
                                       for municipal licenses, parking and other fine payments etc.
                                       (You may also link to provincial sites where transactional
                                       capabilities are currently provided.)

                              •        When developing a wish-list of potential functions and services
                                       for your website, establish a time-frame for these to be offered.
                                       For example:
                                       •      short term (within 1 year)
                                       •      medium-term (1 to 2 years)
                                       •      longer term (2+ years)

                              •        Note the expectations of the website improvement or
                                       development. For example what benefits are envisioned?
                                       •      cost savings due to less demand on staff at front desk
                                       •      lower cost than traditional methods of marketing,
                                       •      savings from printing and distributing documents,
                                       •      improving access to council and municipal staff for
                                              residents,
                                       •      etc.


                              4.2 Management of website development project
                              As with any major project, the revamping or new development of a
                              municipal website requires careful management. Some considerations
                              to keep in mind while managing a project such as this will include:

                              •        Expectations - Managing expectations of both municipal staff
                                       and the public is important. Keep the lines of communication
                                       open and keep staff informed of what is planned and what the
                                       progress to date has been. Continue to seek the input and

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                                       advice of staff and constituents and keep all suggestions in
                                       mind as the project progresses.

                              •        Time-line - Anticipate some delays in any major project.
                                       Some items may take longer to develop than originally
                                       anticipated, such as:
                                       •       acquisition and delivery of software and hardware,

                                       •         installation and configuration of technology, and

                                       •         design issues that are typically underestimated both in
                                                 the number of issues that arise, but also in the length of
                                                 time it takes to resolve these issues. Design is essential
                                                 to the successful outcome of a website project so take
                                                 the time to address each design issue as it arises.

                              •        Ownership - This factor is so important that it bears repeating.
                                       Have one person take ownership of the website project and
                                       ensure they know their role is to see the project through to
                                       completion.

                              •        Resources - Identify the resources you have on hand already.
                                       This includes human resources! If there is significant IT
                                       expertise or technology available on-site, take advantage of
                                       that expertise to help guide the project or to simply offer a
                                       second opinion.

                              •        Benchmark and Best Practices - Talk to other municipalities
                                       to learn how their website projects progressed. Ask questions
                                       to avoid any potential problem areas, or to learn how they may
                                       have dealt with a similar situation.

                              •        Planning - It is essential to take the time to thoroughly plan the
                                       project in advance. Establish what activities need to take
                                       place, and who will be responsible for each phase of the
                                       project. Ensure the plan is flexible to accommodate the
                                       changes that will inevitably occur.

                              •        Communication - This is a key aspect of any major project.
                                       Ensure that all stakeholders are kept informed of the progress
                                       of the project and of any issues that may pertain directly to
                                       them. Involve stakeholders in the decision making whenever
                                       possible to insure that everyone’s needs are being met when
                                       and where possible.


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                              •        Documentation - Keep records of correspondence and
                                       expenditures related to the website project to ensure there are
                                       no surprises. The final product should not be a surprise or a
                                       disappointment to any of the stakeholders involved if
                                       documentation is kept on all correspondence and budget issues.

                              •        Implications - A major website project will have implications
                                       for staff, existing technologies, business processes, timelines
                                       and of course the budget. Also, an important factor to keep in
                                       mind is the implications for the public. Consider in particular:

                                       •         Technological implications - This bears special mention
                                                 as the planned project may have implications on
                                                 equipment and technology. For example is your
                                                 existing server adequate for the planned upgrades. Will
                                                 you require a server with greater capacity for the
                                                 improvements you have planned?

                                       •         Human resource implications - Will staff require
                                                 additional training to perform the “back-office”
                                                 functions that they will be responsible for such as
                                                 training, or managing the site?

                              •        Copyright - Ensure you have the proper authority to publish
                                       any information you plan to include on your website. Have
                                       permission for using any graphics or photographs, text or
                                       images that you plan to include.


                              4.3 Needs Analysis
    Know what you             A key step in a website project is to clearly identify the needs for your
    want to accomplish        website. The needs of your municipality will differ in some respects
    with the website          from other municipalities, and will have a high degree of overlap in
    before you begin to       other areas. For more detailed information on carrying out a needs
    develop it                analysis refer to Appendix E at the end of this guide.

                              4.4 Requirements
                              This stage is where you begin to identify the detailed qualitative and
                              quantitative measures that you require for the website. Some
                              examples of requirements are listed below to provide a flavour of the
                              types of things to think about in this stage.

                              Sample Requirements:
                              “The website must be able to support 100 concurrent users.”
                              “All website content should be available in English or French.”

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                              “A website visitor will always be presented with a navigation menu on
                              the left side of all pages within the website.”


                              4.5 Design
                              The website design develops from the items included in the list of
                              priorities. In a small website project, the priority list is developed as
                              the site is being designed. The following checklist provides ideas to
                              keep in mind as your team designs the website to meet its
                              requirements, goals and vision.


                                 Elements of website design:
                                 •     consultation - the design process and active ongoing
                                       consultation with stakeholders should go hand in hand.

                                 •       documentation - all stages of the consultation and design
                                         process should be documented for later reference.

                                 •       flexibility - final design should be flexible to adapt to
                                         future modifications or updates as required.

                                 •       user interface - how the site will look, and how users will
                                         navigate through the site. This includes basic screen
                                         layout, colours, text, etc. that will be incorporated into the
                                         design.

                                 •       interfaces - how the website will interface with other
                                         systems or link to other websites, including “back office”
                                         systems where data is processed prior to being published
                                         on the site, or data received from the site.

                                 •       review - structured reviews to gather feedback on how
                                         well the design is meeting stakeholder expectations.




                              Section 6 of this guide will provide specific guidance and tips to help
                              design a professional, well organized website.




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                              4.6      Development
                              The development phase of a website project involves using the designs
                              agreed upon earlier and implementing them into a working version of
                              the site. Following is a list of items to consider during the
                              development phase of a website project.

                              Website development
                              If using in-house resources, there are development tools that may aid
                              in the developing the website such as:
                              •       an HTML editor for developing web pages,
                              •       graphics software to create or modify images, and
                              •       FTP software to transfer files between the computer on which
                                      you develop the site and the production website.

                              During the development phase, ensure time is allocated to allow for
                              the ongoing review of the project as it is developed. Catching
                              issues/errors early in the process should be a key objective.

                              Digital images/logos etc. that you may want to include on the site
                              require specialized skills and expertise. Ensure that the project has
                              access to skilled resource personnel who can develop such images for
                              the site to provide professional look to the site.

                              There is a proliferation of technologies available for website
                              development. Make sure the technologies selected for developing the
                              site are compatible with the technologies being used to host your site.
                              Using HTML for the pages is a standard practice. In particular, if the
                              site will contain or make use of interactive or dynamically generated
                              pages. Also, be sure you are using technologies that will be available
                              on the production website machines.

                              If your municipality will be using contracted resources to have the site
                              developed, ensure they have a single point of contact for questions and
                              reviews of their work. This will ensure that any issues or problems
                              that arise are dealt with as early as possible in the development cycle.

                              As the website is developed, it is important that the files containing the
                              website content are under a form of version control. This is especially
                              important when more than one person is working with a file.


                              4.7Testing
                              During the development process a schedule of, testing should be
                              included in order to ensure to ensure the site is working as designed.
                              Ideally, testing happens throughout the development process so errors

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    Don’t “Go Live”           can be caught early. Plan on the following additional types of testing
    before fully testing      during the website project:
    the entire site
                              •        Page testing – Reviews of individual pages (ideally, as they
                                       are developed) to ensure the content / service provided is
                                       correct. During page testing, ensure each page appears as
                                       expected and that all information on each page has been
                                       proofread to ensure it is correct.

                              •        System testing – Testing of the fully developed website to
                                       ensure it functions properly as a whole.
                                       During system testing, look for the following:
                                       •       That all links work between pages within the website.
                                       •       That all links to external websites function correctly.
                                       •       That you can navigate around the website as required.
                                       •       That all services are provided by your website as
                                               expected.

                              •        Integration testing – Testing of any interfaces the website
                                       uses (e.g. email functionality, a service which looks up
                                       information from a database, etc.). Integration testing will be
                                       largely dependent upon what other systems (if any) make up
                                       your overall website. There may be databases or other
                                       technology services linked directly into your website. If this is
                                       the case, test the following:
                                       •       Make sure any services dependent upon an internal
                                               database work appropriately.
                                       •       Make sure any services dependent upon an external
                                               service/database work appropriately.
                                       •       Make sure to test how your website functions if an
                                               internal or external database/information service is not
                                               available. Your website should show an appropriate
                                               and informative error message to users.

                              •        Production testing – Before launching the website, test the
                                       production version of the site. There may be (and very likely
                                       will be) small differences between the production website (and
                                       its associated hardware and software) and the technologies
                                       used to develop your site.

                              For all testing, there should be a test plan that identifies the types of
                              testing to be performed. This will help to ensure the site is fully tested
                              before it is introduced to users. The test plan should include test cases
                              that you and your team will perform to ensure the proper functioning
                              of the site.

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                               If a contracted resource has developed the website for you, ensure a
                              sign-off step is built in to perform a “User Acceptance Test”. This is a
                              test which allows you to review the site as built by the contractor and
                              formalize any deficiencies before accepting the final product.

                              After the initial website project has been completed, plan for the
                              ongoing testing of the site:
                              •       Any future changes made to the site will need to be tested.

                              •        Depending on the services provided on the site, there may be
                                       certain performance or security tests that should be carried out
                                       on a regular ongoing basis.

                              The website should be tested with a large number of browsers and
                              configurations on different types of computers to ensure it will
                              function correctly when accessed by users who may be using a wide
                              variety of technology products.


                              4.8 Deployment
    Prepare a “Roll-          At this stage of the project the new or revised site should be ready for
    out” plan                 roll out.

                              If the plan is to roll out the website in phases, ensure those services
                              that will be in high demand are in the first phase in order to gain the
                              attention and interest of users.

                              Staff training is a key component of introducing a new/updated
                              website. Ensure any staff members who will support the users of the
                              website receive sufficient training on the website and how to support
                              its users.

                              Decide on and register a domain name the website. Ensure the name
                              chosen is recognizable to your potential users and easy to remember.
                              If you are using a third party to provide hosting services for the
                              website, they may be of help to you in acquiring the domain name.

                              If you are offering services on the website that may be sensitive in
                              nature (e.g. accepting payment for services, accepting submissions of
                              potentially confidential information) you may need to acquire a web
                              server certificate to ensure submissions of information are encrypted.
                              If you are using a third party to provide hosting services for the
                              website, they may help in acquiring the certificate.




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                              Create a list of items to test immediately after the website is moved
                              into production to will ensure any outstanding issues are resolved
                              before users access your site for the first time.

                              Ensure formal agreements are in place with any service providers you
                              are using for the following services:
                              •       Website hosting – Make sure the agreement includes a
                                      description of the term of the agreement, specific pricing,
                                      services included and excluded, and service levels to be
                                      provided (e.g. service availability, uptime, notification of
                                      changes, etc.)

                              •        Support services – If you will be relying on contracted services
                                       to provide support for any aspect of the website, ensure the
                                       agreement for those services includes a list of the services to be
                                       provided, services not provided, service levels (e.g. time to
                                       respond, time to fix), complete contact information and
                                       processes to raise and monitor issues that occur.

                              For any support, maintenance or hosting services performed in-house
                              for your website, be sure that you formally document who in the
                              organization is responsible for the function and the terms of providing
                              the service. In smaller organizations this may not be required and
                              circumstances should dictate how formally this needs to be
                              documented. The goal should be to provide users with effective ways
                              to seek support and to resolve their issues in a professional and timely
                              manner.

                              Consider ways to encourage potential users to begin visiting your
                              website. This can involve advertising in the local media or printing
                              your municipality’s URL on communications/brochures. Notify other
                              stakeholder organizations of the new website to encourage them to
                              link to your site. Some potential organizations to notify are:
                              •       Other municipalities,
                              •       Community groups,
                              •       Other Government entities (agencies, Provincial departments,
                                      etc.)

                              Provide widely available support to website users, especially early-on.
                              Staff members answering telephone inquiries or greeting walk-in
                              visitors to the municipal office should be trained on the website and
                              able to provide support and information for users.

                              When initially deploying the website, try to do it during a “down time”
                              so that any interruptions you experience (either with respect to

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                              technology or support) in the first few days do not impose significant
                              issues to your users.

                              Ensure that as your website is deployed, it is registered with the major
                              search engines so that potential users of your site can find it with ease.


                              4.9 Ongoing Management and Maintenance
    Keep the website          The longest aspect of the lifecycle is the ongoing use of the website by
    current                   users. To be successful, a municipal website should be kept up to date
                              and reflect changes within your municipality. Review Section 7.5 for
                              options to include maintain the website over time.

                              In order to properly manage a website over time, consider the statistics
                              you wish to collect on the website and arrange for the required
                              programming to be included during development of the site. Some
                              suggestions include:
                              •      number of unique visits by visitors,
                              •      duration of visits by users.
                              •      number of “hits” for each page of the website.
                              •      peak usage times during the day/week/month/year.
                              •      Pages from which people arrive at the website (i.e. referring
                                     pages).
                              •      errors encountered in using the site.
                              •      transaction counts for services on your site (email requests
                                     submitted, transactions processed, etc.). and
                              •      browser versions and configurations used to access the site.

                              Establish a clear management structure is in place for the website.
                              Some activities may be performed in-house and some by 3rd parties,
                              but there should be someone in the organization who takes
                              “ownership” of the website and can oversee any processes or
                              procedures involved with the ongoing maintenance of the site. The
                              person responsible for the site should have copies of any documented
                              agreements and processes in place.

                              When changes are made to the website over time, any requirements
                              regarding design, development, testing or other project documentation
                              should be updated to reflect those changes.

                              As the website is an official part of a municipality’s communications
                              strategy, it is critical that sufficient time is allocated to manage how
                              information gets published to the site. Some considerations include:

                              •        Who should be allowed to publish information to the website?

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                              •        What is the review process that must be followed before
                                       information can be published to the website?

                              •        Who should be involved in reviews?

                              •        Consider performing ongoing surveys of website users (either
                                       through traditional means or via online surveys) to ensure the
                                       site is meeting their needs.

                              •        Links to external sites should be checked on an ongoing basis
                                       Organizations change website addresses and update
                                       information regularly. Some links may become dated or
                                       disappear. Broken links make a website dated and frustrating
                                       for users so care should be taken on a regular basis to ensure
                                       any broken links are fixed as soon as possible.

                              Budgeting is always an issue with any municipal endeavour and
                              website development or rejuvenation will require funding as well.
                              Items to keep in mind when setting the budget for website
                              development and maintenance include:
                              •       upgrades (if you are hosting the website yourself),

                              •        support of the website’s users (e.g. diagnosing problems,
                                       providing guidance),

                              •        support contracts,

                              •        maintenance and changes to the services, applications and
                                       technology,

                              •        new services to be included at later phases of the development,
                                       and

                              •        3rd party support, maintenance and/or hosting services that may
                                       be required. Determine whether 24x7 support will be
                                       required, or will it be sufficient that issues wait until normal
                                       business hours to be resolved. Different support levels will
                                       have different costs – consider carefully what is needed.

                              Over time, it is essential that the files containing website content for
                              your website are under a form of version control. It is important to
                              track what version of a file is on the production site. This can be
                              particularly important when more than one person has access to these
                              files.



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                              5.0 Website Inventory
                              While the previous section dealt with the steps in the process of
                              implementing a website, this section provides ideas for actual services
    What on-line              offered on a municipal website. Treat these lists as checklists and use
    services can be           them when you are thinking about adding functions/services to your
    provided on the           website.
    site?
                              5.1 External Information and Service Possibilities
                              The list of possible services to be offered to citizens and businesses is
                              presented in the following 5 categories:

                              •        Static informative content– This list of information ideas
                                       features content that is static in nature and can likely be
                                       represented on a single web page. This information changes
                                       infrequently.

                              •        Dynamic informative content - This list contains potential
                                       service ideas that require a website to be more dynamic in
                                       nature. These services require information to be updated more
                                       frequently and may involve integrating the website to a
                                       database containing information to allow users to query the
                                       information.

                              •        Collaborative services – This list of ideas deals with potential
                                       functions to improve communication between your
                                       municipality and the users of your website.

                              •        Transactional services – A list of potential transactions you
                                       may want to offer on your site. These services involve a user
                                       submitting information to your website for processing.

                              •        Other services – This is largely a list of more future thinking
                                       service ideas.

                              For all of the services listed below, consider how to obtain the
                              information (i.e. where does the information currently reside?). Will
                              the data need to be simply written in an HTML format for your site?
                              Is the data currently in a database format that can integrated directly
                              into your website?

                              5.1.1 Ideas for Static Informative Content
                              Static information available on a municipal website would include the
                              following contact information :
                              •       Mayor,
                              •       Councillors,


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                              •        Senior administrative staff,
                              •        Police, Fire, and Public Works, Water Commission/Water
                                       Services, Recreation, Waste Collection/Recycling Depts. etc.
                              •        Department heads, directory of all departments/divisions
                                       within the municipality including:
                                       •       General information contact numbers,
                                       •       Locations of service centres / municipal office,
                                       •       Descriptions of the vision and goals of that
                                               department/division.
                              •        By-law enforcement officer,
                                       •       list of by-laws with text or descriptions,

                              Other static information of use to potential site visitors would include:
                              •      Library information,
                              •      List of sports and recreation facilities, parks, arts and cultural
                                     facilities, museums etc.,
                              •      Listings on municipal programs available,
                              •      Down loadable application forms for program registration,
                                     licences and permits etc.
                              •      Public transportation information (if applicable),
                              •      Municipal planning and development documents and
                                     strategies,
                              •      Municipal tax information,
                              •      Information on starting a business in the community,
                              •      Maps of the municipality / community,
                              •      Listings of boards and committees,
                              •      Municipality business plans and budgets,
                              •      Website policies (e.g. Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, etc.),
                              •      General information on the municipality, such as the history
                                     and background of the community,
                              •      Volunteer information, and
                              •      List of FAQ’s and their answers.


                              5.1.2 Dynamic Informative Content
                              Dynamic information allows the website visitor to interact with the
                              website in some way. For example, search services allow a user to
                              perform a search of the site using keywords to find information on a
                              particular topic of interest.

                              “Off the shelf” search engines are available, or municipal website
                              developers may capitalize on the Google search service available from
                              Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.




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                              Some examples of dynamic information useful on a municipal website
                              would include:
                              •      Information on recreation programs,
                              •      Events listings,
                              •      Up to date weather information,
                              •      Tenders and request for proposals information,
                              •      Employment opportunities,
                              •      Details of council and committee meetings,
                              •      Official municipal press releases,
                              •      Municipal news updates,
                              •      Emergency measures updates,
                              •      Functionality to produce “printer-friendly” versions of your
                                     pages to allow users to print without images, and taking into
                                     account standard page sizes),
                              •      “What’s New” information to highlight news and/or changes to
                                     your website.

                              5.1.3 Collaborative Services
                              Some collaborative and interactive services that may prove popular on
                              a municipal website include:
                              Interactive chat rooms for discussions of municipal topics,
                              •       Message forums,
                              •       Email capability to contact staff,
                              •       Online surveys and opinion polls,
                              •       Submission of requests for service and complaints,
                              •       Links to other government departments and agencies such as:
                                      •      Other municipalities,
                                      •      Provincial departments,
                                      •      Federal departments

                              Reviewing various private sector websites may offer additional ideas
                              for adaptation to a municipal website as well.


                              5.1.4 Transactional Services
                              Many governments have placed significant focus on adopting
                              technologies and processes to allow the processing of transactions via
                              the Internet. For additional information on e-Government, specifically
                              as it pertains to transactional services, see Section 6.4 of the Local
                              Government Resource Handbook. Some transactional services that
                              may be appropriate for a municipal website include:
                              •        Registration services (e.g. for recreation programs),
                              •        Payment services for fines, licences, permits, documents,
                              •        Electronic submission of application forms (e.g. for volunteer
                                       positions, for job openings),


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                              •        Electronic filing of legal documents.


                              5.1.5    Other Services
                              The future holds limitless possibilities for further development of a
                              municipal online presence. It is a good practice to keep a list of future
                              ideas to discuss and review on a periodic basis to determine if it is
                              feasible to include them in the website. Some services that may not be
                              too far in the future are outlined as follows:
                              •       Electronic (online) voting,
                              •       Webcasting services (to webcast council meetings, town hall
                                      meetings, etc.) ,and
                              •       Collaborative technologies to allow remote attendance and
                                      participation at official meetings (by staff or the public).


                              5.2     Internal Information and Services
                              Although the focus of this guide has been on information and services
                              to provide to individuals and businesses external to the municipal
                              organization, there are services and information which could be
                              offered internally to administrative staff, councillors and employees.
                              Budget considerations may limit the type and number of services
                              utilized by municipalities. Some internal services that may be of
                              interest include:
                              •       HR services including payroll, manuals, benefits;
                              •       Directories and contact information,
                              •       Internal newsletters,
                              •       Publishing information for internal review,
                              •       Management information concerning internet usage and use of
                                      the municipal website, and
                              •       Guidelines, policy and procedural manuals.


                              5.3 Starting Points
    Develop a website         The potential services a website can offer are many and varied. No
    that corresponds to       website project would attempt to tackle the introduction of all (or even
    your municipal size       most) of the ideas presented above. The first steps in developing a web
    and ability to            presence are outlined below.
    maintain it
                              Small municipalities:
                              •     Start small, but provide flexibility for future growth,
                              •     Review the services ideas in section 5.1.1 and include those
                                    which are most important to your municipality,
                              •     Include a search facility on your website,


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                              •        Include basic functionality that allows contact with municipal
                                       staff via email. This can be as simple as showing email
                                       addresses on the website,
                              •        Consider including a few elements from sections 5.1.2 and
                                       5.1.3. Balance this with the goal of keeping your first website
                                       simple, yet functional for its expected users,
                              •        Include additional services as budgets allow and there is a need
                                       or demand for those services.

                              Medium to large municipalities:
                              •    As for small municipalities, start small but include the
                                   flexibility to expand the number of services offered as
                                   requirements and budgets allow,
                              •    Include dynamic and interactive services (5.1.2 and 5.1.3)
                                   according to needs demand and budgets allow,
                              •    Introduce functionality and additional services in a phased
                                   approach to keep the website updated and interesting for
                                   visitors,
                              •    Maintain a list of priorities for future additions to the website
                                   to be introduced in phases.

                              Many of the services discussed above are complex in nature. A
                              number of factors need to be considered when contemplating
                              additional services to a municipal website. Issues of privacy, access to
                              information, security etc. may require careful consideration before a
                              new service is introduced. Allow sufficient time and resources to
                              thoroughly investigate all the implications of introducing new
                              services.


    Moving forward            6.0 Website Organization and Design
    with your “wish           After reviewing the information and service ideas presented in the
    list”                     previous section, you were probably left with a feeling of being
                              overwhelmed. The list of possible items to include on your website is
                              virtually limitless. Thought needs to be given on how to structure a
                              website so as to best present the information and services to users in a
                              logical, straightforward fashion. Regardless of the information and
                              services offered on a website, there are some general goals which all
                              municipal websites should strive to achieve.

                              General Organization and Design Goals
                              Incorporate methods by which two-way communication can occur
                              between the users of your website and the staff, councillors and
                              officers of your municipality. Consider whether it is preferable to
                              include individual staff email addresses, or a general address so that


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                              visitors can have questions answered or have a staff person contact
                              them to provide further information.

                              Accessibility and ease of navigation through the site is essential to the
                              success of any website. Potential users will have a wide range of skills
                              and abilities in using computers so it is important to keep the site
                              simple and easy to use. Further information on ensuring the website is
                              accessible to potential visitors is offered in Section 7.2.

                              Minimize, or better yet, avoid the instances where users require special
                              software or browser plug-ins to access features on the site. The only
                              generally accepted piece of additional software a user should have in
                              order to access aspects of your website is for the viewing of PDF
                              documents. When PDF documents are available on a website, include
                              a link to the site where the required software for reading these
                              documents may be downloaded free of charge.

                              Content on your website must be written in plain language. Sites that
                              are bilingual should offer the option for users to select the language
                              they prefer.
                              •       Use bullet points and lists wherever possible,
                              •       Minimize the use of long paragraphs of text,
                              •       Provide a strong structure to any written materials through the
                                      use of headings and sub-headings. Write professionally, yet
                                      avoid using jargon or technical terms,
                              •       Keep the use of large images to a minimum,
                              •       Wherever possible, create links to find other Government
                                      services, (i.e. Provincial/Federal services),
                              •       All information provided on your website must be kept
                                      accurate and up to date,
                              •       All websites must be law abiding and clearly state all terms
                                      and conditions to users,
                              •       Security is an essential component of any website. Review
                                      Section 7.7 for specific tips on securing your site.


                               6.1 High-Level Organization Options
                              There are some key concepts to keep in mind when beginning to
                              design a website. First, the main page (i.e. entry page) for a website
                              must provide a high-level overview of the municipality and provide
                              the required navigation and search features to allow users to find the
                              information they are seeking. Secondly, remember that website
                              visitors should be able to easily navigate to any page on the site, and
                              return to the main page. Websites should have all pages self-sufficient
                              and self-contained.


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                              There are four predominant organization models for information-
                              centric websites. Once a visitor has reached the main page of the site
                              they should be able to navigate through the remainder of the site by
                              selecting the information they need. Information may be organized by
                              Type of User, Type of Information, frequency of access or by life
                              event. Consider these and other possible criteria to determine which
                              may best meet the requirements of the municipality.

                              Type of User
                              Organize information by the type of user accessing the website

                              Secondary Pages:
                                    •     Citizen Information:
                                          •      Tax Information,
                                          •      Police services,
                                          •      Fire services,
                                          •      Water services,
                                          •      Waste collection services,
                                          •      By-law information
                                          •      etc.

                                       •         Business Information:
                                                 •      Permit Information,
                                                 •      Tender information and processes,
                                                 •      etc.

                                       •         Visitor Information:
                                                 •       Maps,
                                                 •       Events,
                                                 •       Recreational and Cultural facilities,
                                                 •       etc.

                              Type of information:
                              Secondary Pages:
                                    •      Municipal Services:
                                           •       Police services,
                                           •       Fire services,
                                           •       Water services,
                                           •       Waste collection services,
                                           •       By-law information,
                                           •       etc.

                                       •         Contact Information:
                                                 •      Individual staff contact information,
                                                 •      General contact information


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                                       •         Council Proceedings
                                                 •     Agendas of upcoming meetings,
                                                 •     Staff reports,
                                                 •     Council minutes.

                              Frequency of access
                              Information and secondary pages are organized according to the
                              frequency the information is accessed. This could include an index
                              page containing links to the specific information throughout the
                              website. This method is best used in conjunction with one of the other
                              organization models.

                              Life event
                              Information is organized according to the life events that visitors
                              would be experiencing.
                              Secondary Pages:
                              •      Making a Payment:
                                     •       Property Taxes,
                                     •       Parking Fines,
                                     •       Licenses,
                                     •       etc.
                              •       Obtaining a Permit:
                                     •       Special event permits,
                                     •       Burning permits,
                                     •       etc.

                              The Main Page of website provides users with an overview of the
                              entire site and allow them to easily navigate to the specific information
                              they are seeking. This page should provide a very broad view of the
                              municipality and its website.

                              Secondary Pages provide more detailed information on each of the
                              main topics from the main page. The lower level information pages
                              typically contain more specific information, contact information, and
                              services.


                              6.2 Website Design Considerations
    The Do’s & Don’ts         Detailed design activities are concerned with specifying the design of
    for page design           a website to a level sufficient to begin developing the site. The
                              following section contains items to consider in documenting the
                              design. Careful documentation of what is discussed, will make the
                              development phase of thee project more straightforward and less
                              susceptible to re-work.


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                              6.2.1 How to Design a Website
                              Early in the designing process for a website it is helpful to draw a
                              “website map”. This drawing should show all of the pages in the
                              website and how they are linked to other pages within the site. (There
                              is a an example of a website map in Appendix B.)

                              Use drawings like this to walk stakeholders through the design process
                              and to solicit feedback.

                              For a small website, it may be possible to include all pages on the
                              website map. If you are designing a larger site, you might need to roll-
                              0up some of the lower level pages on your website map to avoid the
                              map becoming too cluttered and rendering it more difficult to use for
                              design discussions.

                              The Website Map
                              •    Sketch mock-ups of the Main Page and Secondary Pages to
                                   solicit feedback from stakeholders. These should be complete
                                   mock-ups so reviewers can gain an appreciation for the overall
                                   design.
                              •    Consider using software drawing tools for your designs. This
                                   will allow you to keep them in electronic format for use in
                                   design documents.

                              •        Someone with specialized graphical design skills can be hired
                                       to help with the colours, logos and overall presentation of your
                                       website.

                              •        Determine the browser and technology standards required by
                                       users to access the information and services of your website.
                                       Make sure these are stated on your website. Do not design the
                                       website to only work with one particular browser.


                              6.2.2 Page Design and Layout
                              Creating diagrams showing the overall layout for pages within the
                              website allow for consistency in design. All pages on the site should
                              have a similar layout and colour scheme. Using a drawing like the one
                              in Appendix C will facilitate design discussions on the overall layout
                              of the web site.

                              Specify the resolution standard supported by your website. Today,
                              most Government websites support 800x600 resolution. Whatever
                              resolution you choose, ensure the website is easily viewable at that
                              resolution.


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                              Design pages such that no horizontal scrolling is required.

                              If these elements are to be used on the site, consider how they will
                              appear:
                              •       Markings for mandatory fields for data to be submitted by
                                      users,

                              •        Relative positioning of labels for data fields (e.g. to the left of
                                       the field, above the field),

                              •        Standards for the presentation of data (e.g. tabular in a web
                                       page, in a separate PDF for download, etc.).

                              •        Error messages that the user may obtain from time to time
                                       while using your site.

                              Also, specify in the design diagram when you will use control
                              elements such as drop-down lists, check boxes and radio buttons to
                              ensure they are used consistently.

                              Consider how you will address the following navigational topics:
                              •     Pop-up windows - Pop up windows may cause a problem with
                                    some users who have pop-up window protection installed.

                              •        Breadcrumbs - If the website has pages that go a number of
                                       levels deep, consider using “breadcrumbs” to show users their
                                       current location. Breadcrumbs show the path of pages taken
                                       within the website structure. This is typically shown near the
                                       top of a web page.

                              •        Organization of navigation controls - navigation controls
                                       include links, buttons etc. within pages. Make sure navigation
                                       is as consistent as possible across throughout the website.

                              The overall look and feel of the website is important for easy reading
                              by the visitor.
                              •       Specify the fonts and sizes to be used. Keep the number of
                                      different fonts to a minimum, and do not use fonts sizes less
                                      than 10pt.

                              •        Decide how colour will be used throughout the website. Do
                                       not use colour to denote meaning to a piece of information as
                                       those who are colour-blind may not be able to detect this.




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                              •        Specify how headings, normal text, table text, links, and other
                                       textual elements on the site will look. Specifying these will
                                       help to ensure that your site has a consistent look and feel.

                              •        Consider including help information within your website. A
                                       Frequently Asked Questions (or FAQ) section will save time
                                       and resources by providing the information that is most
                                       requested. Also, a contact address for website help will help to
                                       ease frustrations for the users. Pay special attention to those
                                       services/functions which are more complex and involve a user
                                       submitting information to your website.

                              •        If the site is presented in English and French, make sure it has
                                       a similar look and functionality in both languages. Keep in
                                       mind that French text can be quite a bit longer than English and
                                       the design will need to take this into account.


                              6.2.3 Navigation Design
    How to get around         Ease of navigation is crucial to the success of a website. A number of
    the web site              factors can contribute to ease of navigation:
                              •       ensure users can access information in a minimal number of
                                      steps from the site’s main page,

                              •        make navigation options clear to users,

                              •        make links clearly visible to users. Do not use underlined text
                                       within your site as some users may expect that underlined text
                                       to function as a link,

                              •        if providing links to external sites, consider if a disclaimer
                                       message should be displayed indicating this to users, and

                              •        a “Site Map” may offer a clear picture of the overall design and
                                       organization of the site.


                              7.0 Overall Website Considerations
                              There are a number of concepts that span many phases of a website
                              project and also span a number of the electronic services described
                              above. Understanding these concepts can be critical to the success of
                              any website initiative. For each topic below, a brief description is
                              provided followed by a checklist of items to take into consideration.




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                              7.1 Costs of a Website Initiative
    Bottom line ...           Throughout a website initiative, it is essential to keep on top of the
    What are the              costs incurred and potential ongoing costs of maintenance. During
    costs?                    budgeting exercises, be sure to account for all foreseeable costs, and
                              allow sufficient contingency budget for additional items you may
                              decide to add during the project.

                              Potential development costs include:
                              •      Third party contracted for design, development or consulting
                                     during the website project.
                              •      Special tooling / software to help in the design and/or
                                     development of the website.

                              Potential deployment costs include:
                              •      Third party contracted to help deploy the website.
                              •      Registering the website’s domain name.
                              •      Acquiring a web server certificate (if required).
                              •      Training for staff who will support the website.
                              •      Promotional or marketing activities.
                              •      Software, hardware, or network facilities if you are deploying
                                     the website using in-house technical infrastructure.
                              Potential operating costs:
                              •      Third party services for hosting, supporting and/or maintaining
                                     the website.
                              •      Yearly renewal of the web server certificate (if required).
                              •      Renewal of the domain name.
                              •      Support / licensing costs for hardware and software if
                                     operating your own web server / technology infrastructure.
                              •      Ongoing network costs for internet access if operating your
                                     own web server / technology infrastructure.
                              •      Periodic technology upgrades of infrastructure components
                                     purchased. Plan on a 3-4 year replacement cycle.


                              7.2 Usability/Accessibility of a Website
    Keep in mind the          Perhaps the single most important and visible aspect of a website is its
    range of users and        usability. Users will form an opinion of a website based how easy it
    the level of service      was to find, on how it satisfies their needs, how easy it was to find
    they may requre           information within the site and its visual appearance. During the
                              design of the website, the following points should be taken into
                              consideration. Remember that website users will have a wide range of
                              skill levels and abilities, and the site should be accessible by as many
                              constituents as possible.




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                              •        Website pages should be quick to download for users. Too
                                       many large graphics can slow the download time and be a
                                       significant source of frustration.

                              •        Website should have acceptable performance for use via dial-
                                       up internet connection. Particularly in rural areas, this can be a
                                       major irritant for users if a site is designed for broadband or
                                       high speed internet and users have access to dial-up access
                                       only.

                              •        Elements of the website may make it less accessible to some
                                       users. Special features of your site may be blocked by
                                       software or firewalls on users’ machines.

                              Testing the website from a variety of locations can help to eliminate
                              some of the frustrations before it goes live. Whenever possible test the
                              site from:
                              •       a variety of differently configured computers,
                              •       a variety of different computer types (e.g. Windows, Mac,
                                      etc.), and
                              •       industry standard browsers and release levels.

                              Ensure that information can be easily accessed by users. Consider
                              performing some focus group work on early versions of the website to
                              determine if the focus group members find the site easy to navigate.

                              Wherever possible, design your website to require no additional
                              software for use except for a standard Internet browser.

                              Consider how usable your website is for people accessing it with
                              supportive technologies. Test your site with some of the common
                              technologies to ensure that people with disabilities can access your site
                              and gain from the benefits of it. See Section 9 for links to websites
                              containing specifications on how to design an accessible website.


                              7.3 Locating a Website
                              People need to be able to easily locate your website online. Many
                              people use search engines to find websites that contain the information
                              they are looking for. Here are some tips on how to ensure search
                              engines can locate your website and to ensure that search engine
                              results referencing pages within your website will be meaningful to
                              your users.




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                              •        Register your website with all of the major search engines.
                                       You can do this yourself of have another organization do this
                                       for you,

                              •        Use “metadata” within the HTML pages of your site to
                                       describe the content of each page. Metadata is descriptive data
                                       internal to an HTML file which describes the content of the
                                       page. This will allow search engines to index into your
                                       website based on search queries submitted by their users.
                                       Metadata should be as specific as possible so users are directed
                                       to pages that meet their search criteria specifically.,

                              •        Choose a domain name that is associated with your
                                       municipality, is memorable, and where possible, does not use
                                       abbreviations.


                              Options for Creating or Modifying a Website
                              When beginning the process to create a website, or beginning a major
                              overhaul to an existing website, the work, as well as the number of
                              options and choices to accomplish that work may seem daunting.
                              Some options and ideas for the creation or modification of websites.


                              Option 1 - In-house resources
                              •     Use In-house resources. Determine if the required skills are
                                    currently within the organization to perform the following
                                    functions:
                                            •      Design - layout of web pages, website
                                                   organization, graphic design, and branding.
                                            •      Development - creating HTML pages using a
                                                   website editor to create content.
                                            •      Testing.

                              Option 2 - Independent contractor
                              •     Determine what skills are required and contract locally for
                                    those with the skills and expertise to accomplish the task in the
                                    local area.

                              Option 3 - Student / Co-op student
                              •     For many aspects of website creation, students can be an
                                    invaluable resource. Students can create web pages, design,
                                    organize and test the site.




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                              Option 4 - Combination
                              •     Depending on the financial resources available, it might be best
                                    to consider using a number of available resources. For
                                    example contract out for development while training in-house
                                    staff to maintain the site.


                              7.5 Hosting and Operation of a Website
    Options for               Determining how a website will operate can be an intimidating
    running the               process. There are a number of technical and process considerations
    website                   to take into account to make the right choice for your municipality.
                              Some options and ideas for the ongoing hosting and operation of a
                              website include the following:

                              In-house - To set up and maintain a website, a number of things are
                              required:
                                     •      a web-server machine,
                                     •      internet provider to offer network connectivity to the
                                            web server,
                                     •      a DNS name for the site. This is the name a user will
                                            type into the browser to access the website.
                                     •      technical resources- Staff with the required technical
                                            abilities and the time required to support the site. This
                                            resource person will be expected to:
                                            •        provide support when the website is not
                                                     functioning correctly,
                                            •        help the municipality update website
                                                     information and/or teach others within your
                                                     organization to update information,
                                            •        keep your network connection active and ensure
                                                     your web server is up to date with all required
                                                     operating system and security patches.

                              This option requires a considerable allocation of budget and staff
                              resources and may not be the best option for smaller organizations.

                              Independent Contractor - In this option, contract with a third party
                              to provide the web server and network connectivity for the website.
                              Typically, you will pay for this service on a monthly basis and the
                              third party will be responsible for maintaining all network and
                              hardware components of the website. The municipality will be
                              responsible for updating information on the website.




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                              Consider other non-commercial third parties who may provide hosting
                              such as other municipalities, libraries, community groups, etc. This is
                              the most commonly chosen option.

                              Third Party Hosting - Have a third party provide the hosting for your
                              website as well as update the website under your direction. This
                              option is only a meaningful choice if you have no technical skills
                              within the organization that can be dedicated to updating the site
                              content.

                              Shared Services - Partnerships with one or more other municipalities
                              may provide the resources to develop websites for each participating
                              municipality. Pooling financial resources with other municipalities
                              may enable the acquisition of website hosting and/or other technical
                              skills for the ongoing operation of the websites. Consider also pooling
                              experience and lessons learned so in order to learn from each others’
                              mistakes and experiences.

                              7.6 Policy Development for a Website
    Guidance for              As electronic services and facilities are added to the website, policies
    future website            need to be developed to govern the use of technologies and the access
    growth                    to information produced. Below is a list of policies to consider
                              developing as the website grows.

                              •        Appropriate Use Policy - Depending on the services available
                                       on the website, consider incorporating an Appropriate Use
                                       Policy. If the site has interactive components such as chat
                                       rooms, forums for discussion, acceptance of electronic
                                       transactions, payment capabilities, this policy should be
                                       accessible to users to instruct them of the appropriate use of the
                                       services provided. Policies like this sometimes have other
                                       names like “Terms of Use”, “Acceptable Use Policy”. Ensure
                                       the municipality’s legal advisor reviews these policies prior to
                                       adopting them.

                              •        Information Management Policy - This kind of policy
                                       governs record retention timelines and destruction or archival
                                       of information processes. Such policies are critical for records
                                       management particularly when information is made available
                                       to the public via the website. Please refer to the Local
                                       Government Resource Handbook Section 2.2 for more detailed
                                       information on Records Management.

                              •        Publishing Guidelines - If the website will follow a model
                                       allowing a number of individuals or departments within the


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                                       municipality to publish their own material, it is helpful to
                                       develop an internal policy to guide the process by which
                                       content is added to or updated on the site. This type of policy
                                       should state how approvals should be obtained and recorded
                                       prior to any information being uploaded onto the website.

                              •        Disclaimers - Consider including disclaimer language to
                                       inform users that information contained on the site may be out
                                       of date and that users should seek an official record depending
                                       on their use of the information.
                                               •       That information contained on the website may
                                                       be out of date and that users should seek an
                                                       official record depending on their use of the
                                                       information.
                                               •       That links to third party sites will redirect a user
                                                       to a site which is not under the editorial control
                                                       of the municipality and that views, opinions and
                                                       statements on any such site are not the
                                                       responsibility of your municipality.
                                       It may be wise to seek the counsel of the municipality’s legal
                                       advisor to determine what disclaimers and language should be
                                       used on the website.

                              •        Advertising Policy - Advertising is strongly discouraged on
                                       government websites. If you are considering having
                                       advertisements on the site, develop a policy to govern how
                                       advertisers are selected and how advertisements are positioned
                                       on the site.

                              7.7 Security
    How secure is the         Citizens and businesses accessing the services on the website need to
    site?                     be certain that any information accessed or submitted and any
                              transaction processed via the website will be secure. Websites which
                              are informational in nature and feature largely static content will have
                              significantly less security issues than a website featuring a number of
                              interactive and/or transactional services.

                              The checklist below contains some items to consider to ensure the
                              security of the municipal website.

                              •        Any data accepted from a user which may contain private
                                       information should be encrypted. Ensure the website employs
                                       a web server certificate for these types of transactions.




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                              •        All technology (hardware, software and networks) used to
                                       provide the website and its services must be secure.

                                                 •        When a third party is providing these services,
                                                          ask them about the steps taken to make the
                                                          technology secure.

                                                 •        Consider performing an independent audit of
                                                          any technology provider(s) to ensure services
                                                          and technologies are secure. If the website is
                                                          running on in-house technology infrastructure,
                                                          an audit should be done on a routine basis to
                                                          ensure the facility and technology are secure.

                                                 •        The following technologies need to be
                                                          considered in any security analysis:
                                                          •      Web server,
                                                          •      Network(s) on which the web server
                                                                 resides,
                                                          •      Any remote administration protocols
                                                                 used to manage the technology when not
                                                                 on-site,
                                                          •      Databases connected to the website,
                                                          •      Operating systems, and
                                                          •      Email servers connected to the site.

                              Remember that Security involves more than technology. All business
                              processes associated with the website need to be secure. Think about
                              what business processes interact with the website users (e.g. support,
                              payment, etc.) and ensure information collected by these business
                              processes and communications with these business processes are
                              secured.


                              7.8 Backup and Recovery of Information
    Remember to keep          As more information is added to the website, keep in mind how the
    permanent records         information created, managed and/or stored in electronic format is
    of the website for        backed up and maintained so it is not lost in case of a technology
    the municipal             failure.
    archives
                              Some questions to consider regarding the backup and recovery of
                              information include:




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                              •        How will information that is stored electronically be backed up
                                       to ensure it is available should the primary service
                                       malfunction?

                              •        Should a copy of backups be kept off-site?

                              •        Is there a regularly scheduled time to test the information
                                       contained in backups to ensure it is recoverable? Are you
                                       actively testing the ability to recover?

                              •        How quickly does the information need to be restored from
                                       backups?

                              •        Does the municipality have the ability to manage backups
                                       within the organization or should this function be outsourced to
                                       a third party provider?

                              •        If the website is processing transactions online, how will any
                                       data submitted by a user be maintained? Include protocols that
                                       ensure the backup and recovery of information.

                              •        Consider keeping a backup copy of the website on a separate
                                       machine that you can use for ongoing testing purposes.


                       7.9 Business Continuity
    What is the backup As more information is added to the website, it becomes more critical
    plan?              to have a backup plan in place to deal with technology failures, or
                       disasters.

                              Some items to keep in mind would include:

                              •        What are the “workarounds” available should the site become
                                       unavailable for use?

                              •        Are there services provided on the website that are “mission
                                       critical”? If so, create a plan for delivering these services
                                       without the website.

                              •        Is Business Continuity a concern for the technology solution?
                                              •      Does the website need to be “always available”
                                                     or are there acceptable limits to the length of
                                                     time the site can be down?




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                                                 •        The more critical the system and the
                                                          information contained on it, the more important
                                                          it is to have a business continuity plan.

                              •        Provide for regular testing of the business continuity plan to
                                       verify that it is acceptable. Preferably on a yearly basis.

                              •        Review the business continuity plan on a regular basis and
                                       revisit it each time a new service is added to the site in order to
                                       determine if changes to the business continuity plan are
                                       required.

                              •        As users become more reliant on the site for access to
                                       information, the municipality will be at greater risk of
                                       customer/ resident frustrations should an outage of significant
                                       duration occur. Plan for situations such as this to ensure there
                                       are alternative methods of communicating with residents.
                                       Alternative plans should include potential additional capacity
                                       in other service delivery channels such as call centres, counter
                                       staff etc. to meet growing demands during website outages.

                              •        If the website is hosted on a third party site, ensure that
                                       agreements are in place that clearly outline each party’s
                                       responsibilities should services be compromised regardless of
                                       the cause.


                              7.10 Legislative Requirements, FOIPOP and Privacy
    Don’t overlook the        Any technology introduced for the website will need to operate within
    legal concerns            legislative requirements. Close attention should be provided to the
                              Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP)
                              legislation . Refer to Part 20 of the Municipal Government Act for
                              further details. Many of the records published on the website will
                              have FOIPOP considerations that will need to be taken into account.

                              Any technology introduced for the website will also need to operate
                              within privacy legislation and requirements. Close attention should be
                              provided to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic
                              Documents Act (PIPEDA). Seek advice from your legal advisor and
                              have them review the website and its operations to ensure compliance
                              with any and all privacy requirements. Plan to seek reviews for all
                              new services added to your website.

                              If outsourcing is being considered, for some of the website
                              management/hosting to a private company, consider the implications


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    USA Patriot Act           of using a service provider who may store some of the data within the
                              United States. Any data which physically resides in the United States
                              may be accessed by American authorities using powers provided to
                              them under the Patriot Act. There is currently substantial debate on
                              the risk of this occurring. Nonetheless, you should take this into
                              consideration and seek additional information and opinions if you are
                              considering using a service provider who will store data in the United
                              States.


                              7.11 Records Retention
                              The artifacts that are produced, retrieved and/or managed via your
                              website need to be considered in the light of records retention
                              requirements. Public notices, data provided by your constituents via
                              the website, among many others, are good examples of records for
                              which a retention policy will be needed.

                              •        Itemize each potential “record type” managed within the
                                       website. Give particular attention to new records that have
                                       arisen due to your introduction of the website. Some examples
                                       of new record types are:

                                                 •        Data submitted by a citizen via the website,
                                                 •        Public messages left by citizens and/or
                                                          municipality staff on the website.

                              •        Consider what record retention requirements (if any) are placed
                                       on each type of record due to FOIPOP.

                              •        If any technology components of the website are outsourced to
                                       a third party provider, ensure you have considered record
                                       retention and that any requirements are part of the formal
                                       agreement you have with your provider (i.e. to ensure that
                                       records are retained as per your policy and/or legislative
                                       requirements).


                              7.12 Supporting Website Visitors
                              Regardless of how well you design a website, requests for support
                              from users are inevitable. A well designed website, with clear
                              navigation and search functions, organized in a logical fashion, will
                              have a lower ongoing support burden. Another factor to consider is
                              the complexity of services offered on the website and the overall
                              stability of the site from a technology point of view. If your site has



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                              some inherently complex features or if your site experiences
                              technology problems, the support burden will be high.

                              The following are factors are essential for website support:
                              •      Provide clear direction and contact information to users to
                                     allow ease in contacting the municipality when they encounter
                                     difficulty using the website.

                              •        Expect additional support efforts to be required when:
                                              •      a new or revised website is introduced,
                                              •      significant changes are made to the site,
                                              •      new services or functionality is introduced,
                                              •      technological or availability issues occur with
                                                     the site,

                              •        Provide methods by which site visitors can submit questions
                                       via email.

                              •        Provide a FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions section on the
                                       site with information frequently asked about.



                              7.13 Growth and Extensibility
                              Any hardware, software or other technology product purchased should
                              be flexible enough to allow for growth and should adapt to changing
                              requirements as the municipality’s needs change.

                              Some considerations for flexibility of the website include:

                              •        Keep future plans in mind and purchase solutions that can be
                                       modified or work well with other products. This is a key
                                       strategy for making successful technology acquisitions.

                              •        Develop a long range plan outlining how often you expect to
                                       upgrade various technologies used by the website in order to
                                       effectively budget and plan for inevitable changes.

                              •        For smaller municipalities not wanting to make major
                                       investments in technology, training and time to support the
                                       website, consider contracting with a third party to provide
                                       website hosting and maintenance services. There are many
                                       organizations in the local market who will be able to perform
                                       these services at a high quality level for a reasonable price.



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                              •        Ensure there are plans for the ability to increase network
                                       bandwidth as more and more users access the website over
                                       time.


                              7.14 Support for Technology
                              When purchasing new technology for a municipal website, be aware
                              that the job is not done once the website is implemented. Typically,
                              most of the work and cost will arise during the operation of the site.
                              Some of these costs will arise from ongoing changes and updates to
                              the website and addressing any issues that may arise. The ability to
                              support website users, meet new requirements, and address issues will
                              be crucial to the overall success of the initiative.

                              Ongoing support for technology
                              Some questions to keep in mind when reviewing the requirements for
                              ongoing technological support include:

                              •        What is the track record of the products under consideration for
                                       the website?

                              •        Is there sufficient budget allocated for ongoing support,
                                       maintenance, and possible cost overruns whether part of the
                                       original licensing agreement or unexpected maintenance
                                       issues?

                              •        Who will be responsible for supporting the initiative?
                                            •        The vendor who sold the product,
                                            •        A third party recommended by the vendor,
                                            •        Staff resources within the municipality,
                                            •        Independent contractor.

                              •        Are ongoing upgrades / support included in the original
                                       licensing agreement?

                              •        If contracting for support, are the service levels acceptable? (ie:
                                       time-frames for fixing problems, responsiveness, etc.)

                              •        Consider purchasing technology from companies in the local
                                       area. This may help to obtain support when issues arise during
                                       operation.

                              •        Open source tools usually have large support communities as
                                       well as a large body of knowledge on the use of the tool. Open
                                       source tools may be an economical way to develop and support


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                                       the website over time and may provide a cost effective
                                       solution.

                              •        What do the industry experts say about the product under
                                       consideration? Is the technology receiving favourable reviews
                                       by the experts?

                              •        Is the technology currently being used by a large number of
                                       organizations?

                              •        Is the service based on current technology standards? If not,
                                       are you comfortable with the longer-term maintainability and
                                       supportability of the product?

                              •        Have other municipalities in Nova Scotia used the product, and
                                       if so, what has their experience been with it?



                              7.15 Working with Vendors
                              When introducing a new website or significant changes to an existing
                              website, you will likely be working with a variety of vendors such as:
                              •      Technology products – Companies that will sell hardware
                                     and/or software that will be required for the website.

                              •        Technology services/consulting – Service providers who may
                                       help round out technology experience the municipality may be
                                       lacking in due to insufficient staffing and/or experience levels.
                                       Some companies may provide both products and services.

                              •        Website hosting and maintenance services – Companies that
                                       for a monthly or yearly fee will host the website and provide
                                       the hardware, software and network services to allow the
                                       website to be available to its users.

                              Selecting a Vendor
                              When selecting any vendor there are a number of items to keep in
                              mind:
                              •      Has the vendor been in business for a long period of time?
                              •      Are you comfortable that the vendor can meet your needs?
                              •      Contact previous customers of the vendor to determine their
                                     level of satisfaction with the transaction.

                              For vendors of technology products and technology/services
                              consultants consider the following:

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                              •        Customer references for similar products/ services,
                              •        Experience and skill levels in the types of product and services
                                       under consideration,
                              •        Is the price in line with products and services offered by other
                                       vendors? A large discrepancy in pricing can be a warning sign.

                              For vendors of website hosting and maintenance services, ask the
                              following:
                               •     Are the websites the vendor hosts similar in scope, size, and
                                     complexity to the site you are considering? If so, this can be
                                     an indication of a good alignment of their services to your
                                     requirements.

                              •        What has been the experience of other clients of the vendor?
                                       Talking to other clients may help determine their level of
                                       satisfaction with the services provided. Ask about turn-around
                                       time to resolve problems, and the number of issues
                                       encountered in running their website. This will provide a
                                       perspective on the quality of service provided by that particular
                                       vendor.

                              •        What are the total costs for the vendor’s services, and how
                                       does this compare with industry standards?

                              •        What is the level of support provided? Is it sufficient to meet
                                       the ongoing needs of the municipality?

                              •        How quickly can the vendor increase network bandwidth
                                       and/or service space allocated to the website in case of spikes
                                       in demand for the municipal website?

                              If you intend to operate a very large website featuring advanced
                              services and you have outsourced the support, maintenance and
                              hosting to a third party, consider reviewing the “Canadian Institute of
                              Chartered Accountants (CICA) Section 5900 - Opinions on Control
                              Procedures at a Service Organization” for quality standards you may
                              wish to discuss / implement with your service provider.



                               7.16 Benefits of Sharing
                              As you begin a website project or as you operate a website, the
                              following potential models may provide experiences, technology and
                              resources that can be shared. This may improve the quality of the



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                                                                                                            Website Best Practices Guide
                              website, reduce the time it takes to introduce new services and
                              functions, and reduce the total cost to the municipality.

                              Advantages of shared services
                              Forming a group of municipalities to share experiences and lessons
                              learned from the development and operation of websites can be
                              beneficial for all involved.

                              If you are considering acquiring your own technology and
                              infrastructure to host the website, look into the possibility of sharing
                              the use of these purchases with other municipalities. There may be
                              cost savings for all concerned when technology is shared. Discuss this
                              option with experts in shared technology models to identify the
                              benefits and challenges.

                              Hosting services is another area where savings may be achieved by
                              sharing with other municipal units. A group may be able to receive a
                              better price and/or better services than an individual municipality.
                              Some levels of service may not be cost effective for smaller
                              municipalities, but when combined with a number of similar
                              municipalities, that level of service may become more cost effective.

                              8 Conclusions and Summary
                              Creating a municipal website, whether a first site or a major
                              modification to an existing website, can be a daunting task.
                              Undertaking a website project in a situation of limited budget and
                              limited technological resources makes the process even more
                              challenging. Municipalities in Nova Scotia and across Canada are
                              creating new websites or making modifications to their existing
                              website in order to better serve citizens and businesses by providing
                              easily accessible information, and transactional capabilities. They are
                              also using their website to provide a marketing presence to tell the
                              world about the municipality, its people and potential opportunities.

                              When undertaking any website project keep in mind the suggestions
                              provided in this guide as you begin the project. Engage municipal
                              councillors, staff, citizens, businesses, potential vendors and
                              consultants early and often to ensure everyone has a full
                              understanding of the requirements, and that all parties understand
                              directions and decisions. Provide vision and leadership throughout the
                              project, and keep in mind the long-term nature of a website.
                              Technologies and processes put in place today will need to be kept
                              current and relevant over time.




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                              Once the website goes live, dedicate sufficient time and resources to
                              keep it up-to-date to maintain a high level of trust and confidence in
                              the new website for what is sure to be a wide variety of users.




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                              9.0 List of Resources
                              The following resources may be useful as you consider adding new
                              information and services to your website.

                              For further information on this guide, please contact Municipal
                              Services at (902) 424-6642.


                               The following resources were used in the creation of this guide.

                              •        Part 20 of the Municipal Government Act - Freedom of
                                       Information and Protection of Privacy

                              •        Municipal Government Act

                              •        Web Content Accessibility Guidelines -
                                       http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-
                                       19990505/

                              •        Section 2.2 of the Local Government Resource Handbook:
                                       “Records Management” -
                                       http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/muns/manuals/PDF/LGRH/Local
                                       GovernmentResourceHandbook_2.2.pdf

                              •        Section 6.4 of the Local Government Resource Handbook:
                                       “Transition to Single Window Government” -
                                       http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/muns/manuals/PDF/LGRH/Local
                                       GovernmentResourceHandbook_6.4.pdf

                              •        Municipality Update – Initial Findings Report by Dianne
                                       Webber, Unisys Canada (available from Municipal Services).

                              •        Website Design and Content Standards for the Province of
                                       Nova Scotia (Communications Nova Scotia) –
                                       http://www.gov.ns.ca/cmns/policies/webstandards.asp

                              •        Illustrated Handbook for Web Management Teams -
                                       http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/e-
                                       government/resources/handbook/html/htmlindex.asp

                              •        Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
                                       (PIPEDA) –http://www.privcom.gc.ca/legislations/index_e.asp

                              •        Code of Practice for Information Security Management (ISO
                                       17799) – http://www.iso.org


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                              •        Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) Section
                                       5900 - Opinions on Control Procedures at a Service
                                       Organization.




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                              Appendix A – Glossary


                                  Term                                  Definition
                                DNS                               Domain Name Service
                                FAQ                            Frequently Asked Questions
                                FTP                               File Transfer Protocol
                                HTML                           Hypertext Markup Language
                                PDF                             Portable Document Format
                                SNSMR                  Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations




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                              Appendix B – Sample Website Map Diagram

                              Below is an example of a website map. Consider creating a diagram
                              like this for your website to facilitate design discussions. Use the lists
                              of potential services and functions in Section 5 of this guide to help
                              you draw a website map for your municipality.




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                              Appendix C – Sample Page Layout Diagram

                              The diagram below shows an example of a page layout diagram.
                              Consider creating a diagram like this for your website to facilitate
                              page layout and design discussions.




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                              Appendix D – Reference Websites

                              This section contains excerpts from a number of Nova Scotia
                              municipality websites to provide some concrete examples of the
                              design considerations and services discussed in this guide.

                              Excerpts of the following websites will be provided:

                              •        Trenton (http://www.town.trenton.ns.ca/) – This site provides a
                                       very good example of an organization based around the type of
                                       user accessing the site. You will notice the dominant links
                                       provided for Businesses, Visitors, Services (Residents).

                              •        Wolfville (http://www.town.wolfville.ns.ca/) – This site
                                       provides a very good example of an organization based on the
                                       type/classification of information that a user may want to
                                       access. Notice the extensive links on the left side of the main
                                       page of this site.

                              •        River John (http://www.riverjohn.com/) – This site
                                       demonstrates that municipal sites can be about communities.
                                       Notice the use of links to surrounding areas, extensive
                                       information on businesses and events lists for the community.

                              •        Cape Breton Regional Municipality
                                       (http://www.cbrm.ns.ca/portal/default.asp) – This site is a very
                                       good example of the organization of a larger municipal site.
                                       Notice the use of a number of navigation options – quick links
                                       in the upper right corner and left side of the main page, a FAQ-
                                       based view onto the website as well as a user-based navigation
                                       scheme.




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                              The website excerpts shown in this appendix are related to the diagram
                              below and the discussion in Section 6.1 of this guide. Please review
                              the website excerpts in conjunction with the diagram below of a high
                              level representation of a website organization.




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                              Trenton – Main Page




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                              Trenton – Secondary Page Example




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                              Trenton – Another Secondary Page Example




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                              Trenton – Information Page Example

                              This page is accessible from the Municipal Services page shown in the
                              previous example.




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                              Wolfville – Main Page




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                              Wolfville – Secondary Page Example




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                              Wolfville – Another Secondary Page Example




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                              Wolfville – Information Page Example

                              This page is accessible from the Emergency Measures page shown in
                              the previous example.




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                              River John – Main Page




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                              River John – Secondary Page Example




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                              Cape Breton Regional Municipality – Main Page




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                              Cape Breton Regional Municipality – FAQ Page Example




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                              Cape Breton Regional Municipality – Secondary Page Example




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                              Cape Breton Regional Municipality – Information Page Example

                              This page is accessible from the Citizen Information Services page
                              shown in the previous example.




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                              APPENDIX E

                                                          Web Site Needs Analysis

                              The web site needs analysis is a process whereby the developer can
                              identify the requirements that must be satisfied for a web site to be
                              successful. The process involves gathering all pertinent information
                              from potential users and then conducting further research in order to
                              expand the scope of data. All this information is then organized to
                              assist the strategy team to develop the web site concepts and
                              requirements based on the information acquired. The following
                              questions will assist in formulating a website needs analysis to assist
                              in the development of a municipal website.



                              MESSAGE
                              •   What is the primary message you wish to convey to your
                                  audience?
                              •   What are the secondary objectives you hope to achieve?
                              •   What are the overall goals you intend to achieve?
                              •   Who is the target audience? How does this target audience
                                  differ from current users of the site?
                                  (Please describe in detail)
                              •   How does the municipality differentiate itself from other
                                  municipalities?
                              •   What are the key reasons why people are visiting your site?

                              PERCEPTION
                              •   Use three adjectives to describe how the site should be
                                  perceived by the user. (examples: conservative, progressive,
                                  friendly, formal, casual, serious, energetic, humorous,
                                  professional)
                              •   Is this different than current image perception?
                              •   What do you feel is the biggest challenge in getting this image
                                  across to visitors?
                              •   Describe any visual elements or styles that can be utilized from
                                  existing marketing materials etc.?
                              •   How is your municipality currently perceived? Do you wish to
                                  carry the same kind of message through the site?
                              •   List any sites you find compelling. What do you find most
                                  interesting about these sites?
                              •   List sites of other municipalities and briefly state what you like
                                  and dislike about their overall site.



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                              ACTION
                              •    What is the primary action you wish your target user to take
                                   from the main page of your site? (examples: download,
                                   browse, find information, make financial transactions, explore
                                   the municipality, contact information etc.)
                              •    What is the primary action you wish your target user to take
                                   before leaving the site? Is it easy for the visitor to accomplish
                                   this?

                              CONTENT
                              •   Will this site use existing content (copy, art, photos, etc.)? If
                                  so, what is the source and who is responsible for approval? If
                                  not, will you be creating content in-house or will an outside
                                  firm be providing content?
                              •   What is the basic structure of the content and how is it
                                  organized? (examples: is the text now on disk or will it need to
                                  be keystroked? Are images optimized for the web or are they
                                  images used for print? If digital, is it available in PC or Mac
                                  format? Is all the content organized in one location, or is it
                                  spread across the organization?)
                              •   What elements are key items you wish to be available on every
                                  page?

                              TECHNOLOGY
                              •   What is your target platform and browser?
                              •   Are there specific adaptive technologies you would like to
                                  utilize (examples: Flash, JavaScripting, CGI,)?
                              •   How do you believe these technologies will enhance the site or
                                  provide better function?
                              •   Will you have database function? Do you already have the
                                  database in place? (Please include specific information about
                                  software and platforms used)
                              •   Will you have need for secured transactions? (Please describe)

                              ADMINISTRATION
                              •   Who are the primary contacts from your organization and who
                                  has final approval on the project? (Please list names, titles,
                                  email addresses and phone numbers if applicable)
                              •   What is your target launch date? What are the factors
                                  surrounding this deadline?
                              •   Do you already have a domain name in mind? Is it registered?
                              •   What are your budget limitations? Can this project be broken
                                  in a phased manner to help you meet your goals?
                              •   Do you intend on keeping this site updated? If so, how often?
                                  Who is responsible for updating and providing content?


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                              LEGAL
                              •       Are there cultural factors that will effect the interface design?
                              •       What are the legal issues that require attention (examples:
                                      copyrights, trademarks, servicemarks, trade secrets, patents,
                                      etc.)
                              Adapted from an article by Creative Latitude,
                              http://www.creativelatitude.com/




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