Making it easy for people to find, access and use government information online. This is the Govt.nz team’s vision for remaking newzealand.govt.nz completely to meet user needs.
We launched Govt.nz on 29 July 2014. We haven’t stopped building, though: our agile project management approach ensures an ongoing process. Our aim is to continuously improve the site based on feedback we receive from our users. Because of this, our team members work together on a daily basis. They have a diverse range of skills, including:
- web development and testing
- marketing and communications
- agency engagement
- content design
- user research and analysis.
At the moment, one of the things we’re working on in web testing is how to make Govt.nz a flagship for accessibility. We’re asking questions like:
- is the site accessible to people who have difficulty seeing or understanding visual content?
- is there enough contrast between text and its background to be readable for people with low vision, colour blindness, or who are in a bright environment?
- are we providing text alternatives for visual content like images, or links and buttons that use images, etc? This is important for people who can't see images for whatever reason, whether they have a vision impairment, have turned off images to conserve bandwidth, or the images just haven't loaded.
- are we making sure that the content’s structure (eg headings, lists, tables, etc) is available in the HTML markup to assistive technologies like screen readers?
- can you do the same things with a keyboard as you can with a mouse?
There is a wide range of online accessibility tools to help with these sorts of questions. For example, WebAIM's WAVE tool and the new Tenon API are useful for finding accessibility issues in general or for testing against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
The Tanaguru Contrast-Finder and Jonathan Snook's Colour Contrast Check can tell you about the colour contrast between text and its background, thereby helping to improve the text's legibility. We were really happy to see that Govt.nz gets good results on these tests.
There are many other online tools for testing different aspects of accessibility.
But wait! There’s more! We don’t just use online tests to check accessibility. We use detailed manual testing, too. Our testers recently found accessibility issues that wouldn’t have come up if we relied only on tools like those above.
What do we take from all this?
We’re thrilled that Govt.nz is addressing user needs to the extent we’re aiming for in our vision. And we want to keep that high standard. Testing is one of the ways we’re making sure we maintain quality throughout the improvement process. We aim to make Govt.nz a truly good user experience — for all users.