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E-Government, Open Government

New Zealand’s new whole-of-government website a ‘radical’ change

The New Zealand Government has launched a new website, Govt.NZ, bringing together information and services from across agencies.

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“It’s a radical departure from ‘traditional’ service portals because we have been guided by what users tell us they want,” said Peter Dunne, Internal Affairs Minister, launching the website yesterday.

The website content is “written in plain language and grouped by topic rather than agency” to make it easier for people to get what they need from the government, he added.

The website was influenced by the UK government’s similar Gov.UK portal which focused on user-centric design, feedback and transparency. “By building on what they had done, and adapting their basic design elements, we were able to save time and money to deliver a better quality website,” the Department of Internal Affairs said.

The website is built using “responsive design” which means that it resizes to fit a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone screen. It also has a prominent search bar on the top right for users to find information easily.

Developers also used photos and large fonts. “We want it to be easy to navigate and functional but not boring,” the department said.

Govt.nz is a step towards reaching the government’s target to have “an average of 70 per cent of New Zealanders’ most common transactions with government will be completed in a digital environment” by 2017.

The website learnt from what others had already done by using open source code in the early stages to see what worked. The government is also sharing everything that it is doing with the website including open sourcing the code, using Creative Commons licensing for content, and sharing research and user testing results.

The website is “not finished”, the department added. “We’ll keep adding more information, updating what’s there, making changes that you’ve asked for, and adding new features to improve it.”

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