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Questions for City Council Regarding - Administrative Report No 16-2012 (G2) City Website Phase 1 Report

Administrative Report No 16-2012

Section G - City MANAGER

Monday, November 26, 2012

(G2) City Website Phase 1 Report

(Files CK. 261-20, CC. 365-6 and CB.365-4l)


  1. that the User Experience Research Audit and Analysis Report (Attachment 1) be received as information;

  2. that City Council approve the project plan identified in the report to provide the foundation for the terms of reference for Phase 2 Website Design and Implementation; and

  3. that this report be forwarded to the 2013 Business Plan and Budget deliberations.


This report describes the findings of the website audit, outlines the proposed project plan for the re-design of the website and includes a funding strategy for its implementation.


  1. A review has been completed of the City of Saskatoon's website.

  2. Success criteria have been developed for a new website.

  3. Recommendations set scope for development in Phase 2.

  4. A project plan has been developed from the data, analysis and recommendations generated in the review.

  5. A request to fund the development of a new website is included in the 2013 Business Plan and Budget.


This report outlines how, as a key communication and innovation medium for the City, can effectively leverage change in alignment with numerous recommendations in the Strategic Plan. Development of a new website for the City that is more customer and citizen friendly has been identified as a long-term priority. The improved website supports the City of Saskatoon's Strategic Goal of Continuous Improvement through recommendations which would provide a coordinated and improved approach to customer service. The new website can potentially increase productivity and improve efficiency and be used to better serve citizens and connect to stakeholders. As a communication tool, it will be integrated, proactive and professional.


A Call for Proposals for the City of Saskatoon Website Audit and Focus Testing project was issued on June 20, 2011, and closed on July 14, 2011. Infusion Development Corp. commenced work on the project on December 7, 2011.


Phase 1 - A Review of the Website

Through consultation with citizens and stakeholders and a multi-faceted technical analysis, recommendations, terms of reference and a cost estimate for the next phases of work have been prepared to guide the implementation of a new website.

The City of Saskatoon website must be a user-friendly and effective communication tool. creates an identity for the municipality and provides information and services to more than 107,000 people annually. According to Statistics Canada's 2010 Canadian Internet Usage Survey, Saskatoon has the highest rate of internet usage in Canada, at 88%. This suggests the significance and importance for the City of Saskatoon to have a visually appealing and properly functioning website.

Phase I of the website redesign project includes research and analysis of the existing site, (see Attachment 1: User Experience Research Audit and Analysis Report) as well as a high-level conceptual design to test the recommendations.

The methodology for the study was driven by the objectives in the proposal call, and further refined by the project Steering Committee and the consultant. The study combines multiple evaluation tools to provide a total picture of the user experience of The process revealed or confirmed issues, challenges and opportunities within the existing site and the findings are outlined in detail in the report. Some of the findings are:

  • Information is not easy to locate.
  • Some of the tools identified that eServices are either not available or not functioning as intended.
  • Information flow within the website is only one-way, from the City to its citizens, but not vice-versa.
  • Content is frequently inaccurate or dated.
  • has limited accessibility for citizens with disabilities.
  • The website is not optimized for access through new devices, such as mobile smart phones and tablets.

Success Criteria Developed for a New Website

From the findings, success criteria were established, which were also vetted by the public focus group. A successful redesign of will:

  • Be the authoritative source for civic information;
  • Access information within three clicks;
  • Load information in less than five seconds;
  • Present readable and legible information to all audiences on a wide variety of devices;
  • Facilitate two-way interaction with citizens;
  • Create an improved perception of responsive government through the expansion of web services.

These success criteria bridge the broader goals of the Strategic Plan identified earlier.

Phase 2 - Website Design and Implementation

Recommendations in the design are detailed in Attachment 1 and include:

  • Improved access to information and navigation by renovating information architecture.
  • Search function improvements.
  • Improve accessibility according to international standards.
  • Better integrate social media.
  • Subsidiary websites, such as those for the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo and the Land Branch should be separated from to assert the independence of their business operations.
  • Have a dedicated Web Master in order to improve web management and data accuracy.

The high-level conceptual design was completed in Phase 1, and this test fit, or design mock-up of these recommendations, is included in Attachment 2. These conceptual sketches describe one possible approach to the redesign. More detailed design work would be necessary in close collaboration with stakeholders, the public, the Corporate Information Services Branch, and Communications staff. Based on this initial work, the next phase of the website design and construction can begin.

The Project Plan

A project plan has been prepared to provide the foundation for the terms of reference for Phase 2: Website Design and Implementation. The project plan is directed from the consultant's data and analysis gathered in the audit, from the conceptual design that was prepared to test fit the recommendations, and drawn from the expertise of the consultant in past projects of this type. It is comprised of three parts including the visual design, technical design and the construction. This report proposes that the work is carried out over two years, with the construction and content migration completed in part in 2013, with the remainder in 2014. The consultant's report excludes additional costs associated with the development of subsidiary sites and Intranet. The estimated costs are based on the assumption a new website will be developed in the current Sharepoint environment.


An option would be to not accept the project plan, and to not take this project forward as part of the 2013 budget deliberations for further discussion. This option is not recommended in this report, as it would delay the project redesign and construction.


There are no policy implications.


Financial impact of the next phase of this project is connected to consultant design and construction services, project management, new equipment needs, and departmental content migration. Your Administration proposes phasing the implementation of this work over 2013 and 2014 in order to create smaller portions of work which spread out the financial impact over two years.

In order to construct and test a new website while keeping the existing website operational, some new equipment will be required. The full scope of the required equipment will be better known upon completion of the technical design. Equipment purchases are proposed to be phased-in over two years.

City resources in each department will be required to implement the redesigned website. Departments and Branches will need to review all of their existing information in order to purge outdated content and update information prior to migration to the new site. Staff will also be needed as resources, for the migration and testing that will be led by the consultant. This report proposes content migration resources in both years of the project implementation. Lastly, the redesign of the website may have long-term impacts on departmental operations, resulting in changed or enhanced services. Proposed changes to long-term operating FTE's will be brought forward at a later date following the detailed design in Phase 2, as required.

Financial Summary

2011/2012 Funds
Item/Funding Capital ($)
Web Audit Report (Completed) 100,000
Visual Design 100,000
2011/2012 Costs Total 200,000
2011/2012 Funding Total (200,000)
2013 Funds
Item/Funding Capital ($)
Technical Design 74,000
V&T Design Contingency 35,000
Project Coordinator 100,000
Web Construction 191,000
Construction Contingency 19,000
Content Migration 180,000
Equipment 80,000
2013 Cost Total 679,000
CIS Development Reserve (100,000)
Corporate Capital Reserve (100,000)
Reserve for Capital Expenditures (479,000)
2013 Funding Total (679,000)
2014 Funds
Item/Funding Capital ($)
Web Construction 191,000
Construction Contingency 19,000
Content Migration 181,000
Equipment 80,000
2014 Cost Total 471,000
Reserve for Capital Expenditures (471,000)
2014 Funding Total (471,000)


The consultant research team engaged with stakeholders and the public throughout the project to gather feedback in a number of ways. A total of 26 City employee stakeholders participated in a round-table discussion on December 12, 2011.In January 2012, public focus group discussions were carried out in three different sessions totalling 27 participants.The Steering Committee and the consultant also metwith Councillors at this time. The draft recommendations were back to the focus group for review and comment on March 7, 2012. A public survey collected information from 277 external users from December 20, 2011, to January 17, 2012. The City of Saskatoon employee survey involved 163 employees over the same time span.


If approved, a Communications Plan, including a public and media relations strategy, will be prepared to ensure internal and external stakeholders, the public, and media are informed at the appropriate stages and for the official launch of a new website.


A highly effective website can improve how the services are offered at City Hall. Ideally, the renovated website could improve the city's service offerings to the public and this would lessen the need to travel to City Hall to carry out business. While this may not be desirable for all citizens, a broader series of services which are efficient and easy to use would likely have a positive net impact on the environment.


There are no privacy implications.


A CPTED review is not required.


Public Notice pursuant to Section 3 of Policy No. C01-021, Public Notice Policy, is not required.


  1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - User Experience Research Audit and Analysis (A full copy of the report is available upon request.)
  2. Website Look Before and After.

Respectfully submitted,

Randy Grauer, General Manager Community Services Department

Marlys Bilanski, General Manager Corporate Services Department

Mike Gutek, General Manager Infrastructure Services Department

Jeff Jorgenson, General Manager Utility Services Department

Murray Tolland City Manager

Mr. Mayor, members of council,

I wish to speak on this matter at tonights council meeting.

My name is David Mosher and I come before you today representing the concerns of a number of local software developers regarding the proposed acceptance of your plan to revamp the city of saskatoon external website, internal intranet and conversion of documents.

Firstly, I would like to start with a number of questions intended to shed some light on certain ambiguities in the proposal.

With those questions out of the way I would like to say that there is a general feeling that the approach being proposed here is irresponsible. Having worked on software projects with both large enterprises and small businesses in the last 5 years I can say with confidence that projects that rely on large upfront design, like the proposal here indicates, will without doubt achieve higher rates of failure and cost taxpayers more money.

There are also concerns from a number of local software developers that the company that has been hired to do the work in the proposal lacks the ability to best represent the needs of Saskatonians.

If an effort is to be made to revamp the city website that is to align with one of the cities stated goals of Continuous Improvement I recommend not approving this plan and instead putting out another call for public comments and discussion to solicit feedback on how the city and its citizens can best contribute to creating a new website that is usable.


David Mosher Software Developer & Concerned Citizen

A list of recommendations to City Council regarding Administrative Report No. 16-2012

Given the scope of the proposal covers 3 main areas of interest we recommend that:

  • That the proposal be split into 3 separate projects, specifically:
  1. A project that addresses employees concerns with the way they interact with and publish information to the website

  2. A project that addresses the publics concerns with the way they interact with and consume information on the website

  3. A project that addresses the need to convert old and inaccesible documents into a more easily consumed, accessibility-friendly, modern format.

  • A technology stack that consists of open standards and solutions.

  • A "Minimum Viable Product" (MVP) be established in order to determine the smallest thing that can be built that starts addressing needs.

  • An "open" construction phase that involves publicly available prototypes released in small incremental stages (ie: 2 week cycles) to allow public feedback.

  • A "mobile first" design strategy that emphasizes the production of a single mobile-friendly site instead of multiple device-optimized sites.

  • A crowd-sourcing approach which allows for the public to contribute to the project (ie: github pull requests).

  • A project that prioritizes usability, information architecture, and performance above visual design and branding.


With GOV.UK, British government redefines the online government platform

Unfortunately, far too often .gov websites cost millions and don’t deliver as needed. GOV.UK is open source, mobile-friendly, platform agnostic, uses HTML5, scalable, hosted in the cloud and open for feedback. Those criteria collectively embody the default for how government should approach their online efforts in the 21st century.

Digital public services should be easy to find and simple to use – they must also be cost effective and Subject-Matter-Expert-friendly

The British team of developers, designers and managers behind the platform collaboratively built GOV.UK in-house using agile development and the kind of iterative processes one generally only sees in modern Web design shops.

IT needs to be commissioned or rented, rather than procured in huge, expensive contracts of long duration. We are embracing new, cloud-based start-ups and enterprise companies and this will bring benefits for small and medium sized enterprises here in the UK and so contribute to growth.

Why build an entirely new open government platform? It works. It’s inherently flexible, best of breed and completely modular. And it doesn’t require any software licenses.

Given the British government’s ambitious plans for open data, the GOV.UK platform also will need to act as, well, a platform.

There’s massive change needed in our approach to how to digitize what we do. Instead of locking in with a massive supplier, we need to be thinking of it the other way around. What do people need from government? Work from the outside in and redesign processes.

Government Digital Services - Browsers we support and why

In simple terms, support means making sure GOV.UK displays correctly and key functions work.

Not all browsers will render web pages in the same way, often there is a marked difference between browsers in the way that they handle technologies like cascading style sheets (CSS), HTML and javascript.

We are not trying to make the site pixel perfect, but users must be able to access and use the critical information and features on GOV.UK, regardless of which browser they use.


German Federal Laws and Regulations

Why Git?

All German citizens can easily find an up-to-date version of their laws online. However, the legislation process, the historic evolution and the updates to laws are not easily and freely trackable. The reason is that laws are only published in their most recent version and changes to laws are not available in a machine-readable format. This should change: the current state of laws will be stored in this repository under Git version control. This allows the power of Git to be applied to the legislation process. Integrating the whole history of German law changes in Git is the ambitious goal.

Why Markdown?

Laws are prose, they do not contain machine-readable semantics. A complex markup language like XML reduces the human-readability, makes detection of differences harder and contains lots of unnecessary syntax.

Markdown is an intuitive formatting of text, that is readable and writable by humans without the need of additional tools. That fits the nature of laws that only need minimal formatting. Furthermore, Markdown is machine-formattable and can be converted to other formats like HTML.

  1. Does acceptance of this report indicate an award of the phase 2 contract to Infusion Development Corp?

  2. Does recommendation 2 imply an inability to diverge from the scope and plan as laid out in the phase 2 report?

  3. Do equipment purchases listed as part of the budget in the Financial summaries for 2013 and 2014 funds imply hosting equipment? If not, what is the intent of these dollars?

  4. How can citizens obtain full copies of the " User Experience Research Audit and Analysis" document listed? (Attachment 1).

  5. Does this plan intend to address open-data initiatives? Specifically, does the plan encourage City departments to provide data using a 'default-open' policy? Doing so would certainly constitute a 'policy impact', but the report suggests that this will not be the case.

  6. Does the Visual Redesign proposed in the 2011/2012 budget include actual working HTML prototypes or only static image files?

  7. Did the RFP for this project attract any proposals from companies within Saskatoon? How many proposals were reviewed by the steering committee?

  8. Will the Webmaster position detailed in the report be the responsibility of a city employee or a 3rd party contractor? What kind of budget will there be for ongoing maintenance?

  9. Given document conversion is a significant part of this plan, approximately how many documents are intended to be converted in the scope of this plan?

  10. Has thought been given to targeting web standards compliance (ie: HTML5, Section 508, WCAG) and browsers (ie: Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, Opera) instead of specific operating systems?

  11. Are there plans to use crowd-sourcing as a way to achieve the goal of 2-way communication? Many municipalities in the U.S. are using crowd sourcing to report street lights that aren't working, potholes, solicit feedback from residents on certain issues, etc..

  12. "Subsidiary websites, such as those for the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo and the Land Branch should be separated from to assert the independence of their business operations." When will a separate RFP for these subsidiary websites be made available and what is the projected budget? Are these additional subsidiary websites estimated to cost roughly the same?

  13. Are there plans for usability testing? Will content be culled before migration or is it the same info in "new clothes"?

  14. Was there a content strategy analysis prepared? If so, what is the high level goal of the strategy?

  15. Is there a yearly budget for operational costs (hosting, bandwidth, maintenance, etc..)? What will costs be like with the new site compared to now?

  16. Does the proposal include any quality assurance mechanisms?

  17. Will the city have exclusive rights to the source code produced?


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churowa Nov 26, 2012

I just made a fork and created an edit to Q: 5. Apparently you can't create pull requests for gists.

churowa commented Nov 26, 2012

I just made a fork and created an edit to Q: 5. Apparently you can't create pull requests for gists.


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davemo Nov 26, 2012

@churowa, link to your fork?


davemo commented Nov 26, 2012

@churowa, link to your fork?


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davemo Nov 26, 2012

@churowa, got it and pulled in your change to Q5 :)


davemo commented Nov 26, 2012

@churowa, got it and pulled in your change to Q5 :)

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