Under the hood of GovCMS
Built by government as a whole of government service, GovCMS is available to organisations of any size. It is suitable for websites containing publicly available information up to unclassified DLM.
Using open source technology (Drupal) on a public cloud platform, GovCMS provides cyber security services.
Despite the size of your team, GovCMS allows you to manage and maintain affordable and responsive websites.
There are many reasons to use GovCMS, here's a list of our favourites:
1. GovCMS is based on best practice, as outlined in the Australian Government’s Digital Service Standard.
2. It meets government standards for privacy and security.
3. Allows you to manage your website content with minimal resources or technical expertise.
4. It's easy to use — experience in HTML coding is not required.
5. You'll be supported by our service desk — critical and non-critical support on offer.
6. Your website will be protected against threat — we test, patch, update and maintain the platform.
7. GovCMS is built on open source software — you can reuse, change and share website designs with others.
8. Responsive web design — this means your website will look great and work on any size device.
9. Your website will be functional and available 99.95 per cent of the time (excluding scheduled maintenance windows).
Need more convincing? Visit the Why GovCMS page.
GovCMS has two service offerings, Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
We will do the hard work for you. All you need to do is build your website and add your content.
If your website needs higher levels of control and customisation, this plan is for you. You’re responsible for the application layer, including security of your website.
As a PaaS customer, you'll get a tailored proposal that will meet your needs. You can choose the size of infrastructure and bandwidth capacity required for your website. You can also add service desk and infrastructure support.
GovCMS is available to all Australian government organisations (that is, Commonwealth and State government).
If your website uses authentication, collects personal information or payments talk to us early. There are some things you'll need to consider before moving to GovCMS.
Put simply, Content Management System (CMS). GovCMS uses Drupal.
A content management system is an application used to create, manage and update website content.
What is Drupal open source?
Open source software gives users the ability to reuse, change or share the software. It's usually developed in an open collaborative way by a world-wide network of developers all making contributions. This is one of many reasons the Department of Finance selected Drupal for GovCMS.
The government can save on costs by using open source software. Drupal is free to use. There are no licence fees to install and run the CMS.
You may need to pay an extra cost if you choose to customise codes, make new modules or plugins or create your own templates and designs. You will only need to fund new modules and designs once. It is then available to all agencies using GovCMS and all other users of Drupal.
What to consider
We recognise all websites are different and so are the people who manage them. Sometimes organisations have needs ‘outside the box’. That’s okay, we’re here to help. Our first tip - consider your needs early. You may need help to create, migrate or maintain your website. Options available to you are listed below.
Drupal services panel
The Drupal services panel is available to help you, using simplified contract management arrangements. All tiers of government can access the panel.
Contact our team and we will connect you with the panel and send you a copy of the Services Catalogue, which lists available services and fees.
We have put together a few of our top tips below to help you create and manage your website in house. You can also find many online resources helpful.
Websites all provide different functions and vary in complexity. When a website has special functions, we may need to do extra work to get them onto the platform. Talk to us early if your website requires any of the following functions:
• website authentication
• collection of personal information. For example, names, addresses and dates of birth
• financial transactions
Digital Service Standards
The Digital Service Standard (DSS) is a set of best-practice principles for designing and delivering government services. It helps digital teams to build services that are simple, clear and fast. Based on these standards, we have included some tips and tricks we think are important to know. For more information, visit the Digital Transformation Agency’s website.
Open source design
Check out the Australian Government Design System for a framework and set of tools to help get you started. You will find templates and designs for website elements, such as call out boxes, menu bars and icons. You can reuse these designs or customise them to suit you.
Information architecture (IA)
IA or content structure is a form of metadata. In other words, information about information. Content structure is how you organise your information. If you do it well, visitors to your site will find it easy to locate, understand, share and use your information. If you get it wrong, it may leave visitors feeling frustrated - so it's important to get it right!
Content - usage and accessibility
Obviously, the more visitors who can understand your website content, the better. Your content also needs to be accessible to people with disabilities and people who speak English as a second language. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, all government organisations must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
Writing for an online audience is different to writing for print. Visitors to your website will often scan content to find the information they need. They may also read your content on different devices, such as their phone, tablet or computer. Here's our top five tips to help make your content easy to read:
1. Break paragraphs up under descriptive headings.
2. Put the most important information first.
3. Keep sentences short, around 35 words or less.
4. Use simple words, avoid jargon and acronyms.
5. Aim for an education level of grade nine English or less. You can test the reading level using lots of free online programs.
For further guidance for writing online content, visit the Digital Transformation Agency’s website.
COPE stands for Create Once Publish Everywhere. The basic idea is to create great content once and repurpose it. COPE is a great time saver. For example, you may publish an article on one webpage and use a slice of it on another page with a link to the full article. You can also reuse content for social media, email, newsletters and the list goes on!
Loading optimised images
Everyone gets frustrated when a webpage takes time to load or worse still, doesn’t load at all. To avoid this, we recommend optimising images, graphics and design on your website.
This means reducing the file size of your images as much as possible using either a plugin or script. This will speed up the load time of the page without sacrificing quality.
Optimising images will improve how well your website ranks in a Google Images search. It will also increase the visibility of your website.
You’ll find plenty of tips and tricks for optimising images online. If you need help, we can point you in the right direction.
Improve your website over time
You are unlikely to create a perfect website the first time around. As time goes on you'll get a better understanding of your user’s needs. You can improve your website in iterations, you don't have to do it all today.
We use Agile to deliver, refresh and add to our website. Agile is a practice recommended by the DTA. It is a way of breaking projects down into small parcels of work delivered in sprints over several stages: Discovery, Alpha, Beta, and finally Live.
Read more about agile on the DTA website.
Whether you're migrating an existing website or creating a new one, we’ll need some help from you.
We recommend you assign the following roles to people in your organisation. In some cases it may be the same person:
• Product owner – first contact, with full decision making authority for the website
• Subject Matter Expert (SME) – person most familiar with the website content, structure and/or technical details
• Internal technical/ IT contact – to prepare your organisation for the move to GovCMS, answer questions and ensure your network can access the external GovCMS website
• Domain Name Server (DNS) contact – this may be the same person as the technical contact. They will submit and make the DNS change internally to make the website go live
You may also like to use professional services to help with tasks such as content migration and website design, development and implementation.
Your GovCMS plan includes website hosting and management of the software and platform (or just the platform if you have a PaaS plan). You should also consider how you intend to create and maintain your new website; and how you intend to migrate existing content.
When you create or migrate a website to GovCMS you will have the ability to use the GovCMS redirect service for your alternate domain. For example the www.govcms.gov.au site would have its non-www, https://govcms.gov.au, redirect to https://www.govcms.gov.au.
Redirects will be arranged by the Finance onboarding team during the build phase. Additional information will be provided.
This service currently does not support additional redirects for legacy domains. Any legacy domains you wish to redirect will need to be organised separately to the GovCMS on boarding process.