Wellington City Council adopts responsive design

Project to build new website took nine months and cost $1.7 million

Wellington City Council has a new "responsive design" website - that is, a site designed to adjust its layout to the device used to access it.

The project took nine months to complete, at a cost of $1.7 million, says CIO Channa Jayasinha. It involved a number of Wellington companies. DNA did the design and implementation, Empathy created user personas and Insomnia advised on security.

Responsive design techniques can make it easier to maintain a mobile version of a site. This is important as statistics show 25 to 30 percent of accesses to the WCC site are now coming from mobile devices, says Jayasinha.

Jayasinha says Wellington is the first local authority in New Zealand to implement responsive design over its whole site, though he acknowledges he has not surveyed the sites of the Hamilton District Council or Dunedin City Council, both of which have a significant number of responsive pages.

“We narrowly beat Wellington,” says Dunedin spokesman Graham McKerracher.

Wellington’s site is designed in a mobile-friendly Windows 8-like format dominated by blocks of strong, flat colour.

The relatively data-heavy photographic backgrounds that enliven the desktop site are minimised on a phone, though not entirely removed. Less essential items are typically pushed down a level on the mobile version to save screen clutter.

The site supports a full range of tasks on all versions, including passive information pages, interactive forms to make submissions on public consultation issues and a transaction capability, for example to pay rates online.

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