Awards season for the Web Toolkit

I just love good news, don’t you? Especially when hard work gets recognised. I’ve only been on the Digital Engagement team since May, so the creation of the Web Toolkit pre-dates my time here, but I’ve used it a lot, even before I walked in the door. And I’m pleased to say it’s received two big ticks of recognition over the last few months.

Shortlisted for the ANZIAs

Recently, the Web Toolkit was shortlisted for the Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIAs) in the ‘Internet Access & Digital Skills’ category, which is basically about increasing awareness about the web, getting people online and helping them learn the skills they need once they’re there.

The awards ceremony was last week and we didn’t win. There was some serious, but friendly, competition in this category with six finalists (two from New Zealand and four from Australia), so we were really pleased to be part of such a stellar group. The award went to WorkVentures in Australia, with the Open University being ‘highly commended’. There are definitely amazing things happening in this space.

Finalist for the IPANZ Awards

Back in July, the Web Toolkit was selected as a finalist in the 2013 IPANZ Awards — officially called the Institute of Public Administration in New Zealand’s Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards. Phew!

The Web Toolkit was in the ‘Excellence in Networked Government’ category, which recognises outstanding performance in using ICT (information and communications technologies) and networks in the daily business of government. Part of the criteria is being responsive and citizen-centric. Our Digital Engagement team is proud to have recognised for this award because being responsive and citizen-centric is incredibly important to us.

Since we launched the Web Toolkit, it has provided a cost-effective way for us to communicate across government. The feedback we get from visitors also helps to drive continuous improvement to the site.

Another benefit is that the Web Toolkit has gained international attention for what’s happening in the New Zealand Government. Overseas websites link to our blog posts and, in some cases, even translate our blog posts into other languages, such as Serbo-Croatian.

All in all, it’s been a great project to work on.

Big congrats to the other category finalist: the Ministry of Social Development, for implementing their ‘Ask a Question’ tool (a new online service for seniors). And very, very big congrats to the New Zealand Transport Authority for taking the category prize with their Registry System Modernisation project. Well done!

What’s so special about the Web Toolkit?

I have some theories on why the Web Toolkit has been recognised through these awards.

Innovative in government

Government? Innovative? You don’t usually think of using these two words together, but the Web Toolkit represents the approach we’re taking across a suite of projects: We are iterating, engaging with openness and transparency, and responding to feedback by making changes to projects.

Breaking down barriers

The Web Toolkit lets us cross agency boundaries, ignore titles and pretend job descriptions don’t exist so that we can communicate directly with anyone interested in what we have to say. This means we can engage with people with different expertise — communications, project management, IT, policy, accessibility — who aren’t shy about telling us what they think.

No strings attached

We created the Web Toolkit to offer guidance on topics such as social media and web standards, provide advice on using online channels, and a blog to share lessons learned. Others are invited to use this to inform their own work.

Talk to us

We’re constantly asking for feedback, positive or negative, to improve projects in development because we don’t have all the answers. Partly this is our Agile project approach, which means we can be flexible, iterative and fast. But it’s also the team zeitgeist to look for evidence that what we think is a good idea actually works for real people.

We’re not stingy

We’ve shared lessons learned, our own and international research, the results of user testing, and expertise from within the team and across government. We’ll keep adding to the Web Toolkit so that anyone who wants to build on our work has all the information they need.

These are all part of the Web Toolkit backstory. So far, the site has worked quite well, but as things never stay still, we’re ready to evolve as change happens.

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