Web Renewal Series: 6 Departments, 3 Consultants, 4 Blogs

by Kellen Greenberg

Recently my colleagues Denise, Alex and I met up at the local diner to catch up on our projects. Over eggs and coffee we realized that despite us working on Web-related projects in six different departments, the issues, challenges and at times high stress levels faced by our public sector clients are very similar. We decided to put together a series of blogs to pull together some of the important lessons learned from this aggregate of projects.

This series of Web Renewal blogs is designed to help the Federal Government continue in its quest to deliver meaningful web content to Canadians.

Part 1 – More Than One Piece to the Puzzle

All six of the Web Renewal projects we were working on tackled seemingly similar challenges under similar labels: Web Renewal, Web Renovation, Web Transformation. However, when we lifted the rock to see what these projects were really about, we were presented with a host of different challenges. The rubric of “Web renewal” (or something similar) is being used as an umbrella for what we’re seeing as four different types of project:

  • IA Renewal: Often the stepping stone to a deeper problem, clients are looking to fix a broken Web experience by cleaning up their navigation and underlying information architectures.
  • Content Integration: A lot of our Government clients are still working hard to clean up their footprint on the Web. We’ve helped several organizations forge ahead with taking their 200+ websites and streamline them into a single, cohesive Web presence.
  • Content Renewal: This type of work involves taking all of walls of policy text from your website and turning into useful, findable, readable, meaningful Web content. If only people would spend more time and money in this area!
  • Technical Migration: Moving from one technical platform to another. The panacea of managing and delivering content through a Web Content Management System (WCMS) (or a shinier newer one), often gets embedded with cleaning up content and navigation.
  • None of the above: In some cases, the issue being manifested on the Web is rooted in issues that have very little to do with the Web. Absence of organizational vision or direction, poor leadership, misunderstanding of client needs, or complicated policies and operations can all be brought to the surface by trying to make a usable Web experience. However, just because the website is unclear, doesn’t the mean the problem is with the Web.

What’s the point of all these definitions? Fixing a large GC website can have many different facets to it, and moving forward towards a fix requires a good understanding of what the true problems are, a solid project plan and the support of senior management.

Mixing up the right Web Renewal cocktail from the outset can save a lot of pain and frustration down the road. If you’re looking onto a similar type of project for your organization, here are a few quick notes about how to best shape your project and avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

  • Content Integration and Information Architecture work are a natural fit together.
  • Content Integration and Content Renewal are also a good pairing.
  • Content Integration, Renewal, and IA can all be done at once too, but it’s a big project.
  • Content Renewal on its own or combine with other things is a lot of work. It’s incredibly valuable and necessary work, but a lot of it.
  • Technical Migration is just different. Doing this in lock-step with the uprooting your IA and content can be extremely challenging.

Our next post in this series will focus on some of the foundational pieces often overlooked in Web Renewal projects that can make or break its success.

This blog was written by Kellen Greenberg with support from Alexandra Katseva and Denise Eisner.

Kellen is a dynamic consultant, who excels at analysing how people, information and technology work together. As Director of Government Service Excellence, Kellen is focused on helping the Government of Canada solve the complex problems related to serving Canadians. This is done with a focus on effective and strategic use of the web, integrating with other channels such as telephone, in-person, social media and mobile platforms. His strength is bringing clarity to complex situations, and Kellen achieves this through his skills in facilitation, change management, process design and creative problem solving.


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