An Agile website adventure

News calendar icon  13 June 2018

Have you ever wanted to do things differently or drive meaningful and positive change, but then think that it would take too long, or be too hard to do? The QGCIO embarked on a journey to modernise its website, with a slew of improved features that reflects an open and sharing focus – delivered in about 6 months. This was their journey.

Over 5 years, the last QGCIO website had provided a treasure-trove of resources, policies and guidance to help agencies invest in ICT wisely, manage risk appropriately and better align to where the Queensland Government is heading in the emerging digital world. Visitors found the site served its purpose in providing useful content.

“…I am always coming back to your resources for examples of how it looks when it’s done right!”

Even so, as the website reached its 5th anniversary, it was clear that what was then a modern user experience, was now dated. The search feature left much to be desired when compared to the powerhouse of Google, its navigation features were cumbersome, its discussion form could be better streamlined and its colour palette reflected the design choices of its time. Obviously, things needed to change to recapture the excitement and passion of its website users. The web team knew that it was time for a makeover and features upgrade!

The QGCIO is an organisation that aspires to be ‘digital by default’ - to be forward thinking, future focused and open to trying new things. The team wanted to give users a streamlined, innovative and user-friendly experience so they felt better connected.

To explore what this connection could mean, the team started consulting and collaborating with its QGCIO staff, key users in the QGEA Reference Group and other notable communities of practice that use the QGCIO website. The team also explored concepts and ideas in contemporary website design.

Putting this knowledge into practice was akin to bidding farewell to an older Nokia mobile – reliable, does a reasonable job and chugging along... and upgrading to a better iPhone or Android phone – not just reliable but also boasts new features and much more pleasing to the eye!

Practically, this meant replacing static web pages with pages that can be easily shared via social media, and pages that look slick and modern with flat icons. (Design gurus amongst you know that 65% of us are visual learners[i])

Amidst the passion, excitement and fun – the magnitude of work and activities began to dawn on the small project team. Taking into consideration the needs of multiple stakeholders was sometimes overwhelming, the volume of content that needed to be migrated was significant, and the team’s visions had to be achieved using a limited budget within time constraints.

Fortunately, the team had a triple powerhouse of support and partnerships.

First, Andrew Mills (the QG Chief Information Officer) was not only willing to invest financially and organisationally into their vision, but was instrumental in empowering the website team to test the boundaries whilst keeping a watchful eye from the sidelines.

Andy Stokes, the team’s project sponsor is an innovative thinker with great ideas, and supported his staff to experiment, learn, and improve – and was a great example of ’managing by exception’.

The team also forged a partnership with a website developer that shared their keenness to innovate and do things in a more ’agile’ way. This translated to team members co-locating at the vendor' headquarters in 2-week sprints – which resulted in the building of clear, efficient communication and an increased level of trust. QGCIO’s project manager, Sharonn Miller found that an unexpected benefit of working in this way resulted in a team with an even greater level of camaraderie and trust.

Our lead web development partner, Squiz, had this to say:

“the Squiz Project Manager and Lead Developer have both named the QGCIO project as the best project they have ever worked on. I have no doubt that this sentiment is a sign of the excellent capabilities and collaboration skills demonstrated by the QGCIO project team.” – John-Paul Syriatowicz, Co-Founder and Group CEO, Squiz.

Six months of determination and persistence paid off. The website is now live, reaching out to more people than before, and doing so in more innovative and empowering ways.

As project sponsor, Andy Stokes is proud of his team’s efforts to create something new, different and on the journey towards innovation. “My team has evolved its technical skills, project management approach and agile techniques above and beyond our expectations”.

Website visits have increase by 54% and the site is drawing accolades within Government and from afar.

“Well done with the new website. Love it. Significant improvement over the previous version.”

“The new look QGCIO website looks great and it’s easy to find helpful information.”

“Fantastic work from the whole team!”

Lisa Irwin, the QGCIO web admin asserts that she has a greater belief in her abilities that hadn’t realised before. And her motto now is “Just give it a go!”.

This project showcases how collaboration and trust can be built and re-energised through an agile project. If you or your organisation has ever thought about creating meaningful change by taking small, incremental steps with measurable results within a short time, you may find inspiration from this story. For more information, please contact us at qgcio@qgcio.qld.gov.au.


Category: General

Tags: digital1st, experiment-learn-and-improve

Last Reviewed: 13 June 2018