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Digital Channels team: a year in review (and what a year it was!)


2020 was a year like no other. A year that started with the worst bushfires the state has seen, to floods, and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. It has not been an easy year, and most, if not all of us were impacted in some way

But with adversity came opportunity. For some, the opportunity to reconnect with family or learn a new skill and for others it was getting that DIY done (finally!) or catching up on that TV series. Yes, it has been a challenge, but we showed resilience and perseverance.  

This sentiment was no different for our own Digital Channels Team. In what has been an extraordinary year, we stepped up to meet the needs of the citizens of NSW and delivered some pretty amazing work through our digital channels, including the NSW Government website and NSW Government Facebook page.

We would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the teams’ efforts and key achievements during 2020. 

The nsw.gov.au program

Beta nsw.gov.au website launched

March 2020: After 4 months of redesigning, rebuilding and rewriting, the team launched the public beta version of the NSW Government website. The new site offers an inclusive, consistently high-quality user experience. We are continuously working towards further developments, consolidation and improvements across the site. Find out more about nsw.gov.au Beta website.

Since the nsw.gov.au public Beta launch in March 2020, through to 1 December 2020 the site has seen:

• 212% increase in monthly users

• 356% increase in monthly page views

• average session time increased from 00:54 to 02:01

• bounce rate decreased by 15.5%.

Two monitors side by side displaying the old and new nsw.gov.au website.
From left to right: Old nsw.gov.au website to Beta nsw.gov.au website launched in March 2020

Website consolidation

March 2020: The NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM) was the first agency to transition onto nsw.gov.au. Read more about the Births Deaths and Marriages consolidation 

April 2020: The Department of Customer Service (DCS) website was consolidated into the relaunched nsw.gov.au website. The early data looks promising. In November 2020, user visits on the Department of Customer Service run pages were 12% higher than the standalone website at its peak.

Have Your Say

April 2020: The Have Your Say portal relaunched on the new nsw.gov.au website in April 2020. The relaunch saw streamlining of consultation submissions by Have Your Say editors improving the quality of the content and the experience of the editors and contributors. Have Your Say is a central place for the public to find consultations being held in their local area or hosted online on agency websites. Users can filter by region and/or topic to find consultations that interest them. It allows them to share their views and ideas on government plans to improve services, the economy and infrastructure in NSW. 

Collaboration is key

Shortly after the launch of nsw.gov.au Beta and consolidations commenced, our focus shifted. We needed to create and ensure a whole of government digital communications response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a consolidated approach to COVID-19 content on nsw.gov.au. The consolidation model for nsw.gov.au was tested with the creation of the COVID-19 hub.

Creating the COVID-19 hub

March 2020 - present: For nine months, the hub has been a one-stop shop for citizens and businesses, with more than 9 million users looking for the latest information on COVID-19 on nsw.gov.au. We are proud to have created a baseline of trust within the community, with 84% of people agreeing NSW Government is keeping customers well-informed of COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures. Working with subject matter experts across clusters including NSW Health, Treasury, Education, Safework NSW, Service NSW and the Data Analytics Centre, some of the achievements include:

  1. COVID Safe Business program
  2. Active cases heatmap
  3. Testing Clinics

Organising content with the customer in mind

Through a combination of collaboration, an evolving situation and the need to provide fast, accurate and reliable information, we wanted to create content based on needs of the citizen, rather than the traditional structure of government. It was through this approach, that citizens are now able to search based on topics, rather than agencies or department. This shift allowed us to prompt customers with related content, all in the one location. 

So, what does this mean to a NSW customer? A customer, who owns a business may have initially visited nsw.gov.au site to register as a COVID Safe business. Whilst on this page, has then discovered they can apply for a small business grant. They have also realised they can reach out for personal support for their business if required. This information from different agencies across government, is now available on the one page, removing the need for the customer to search and navigate through multiple government websites. This example is further demonstrated through the image below, or you can test it yourself at nsw.gov.au/Covid19. 

Covid-Safe-business-pages-displayed-on-tablet-mobile-and-desktop-devices
COVID-Safe business page, business grant and personal support services available in one location.

A special mention to our social media team who has played an instrumental role in supporting communications on nsw.gov.au in delivering engaging, targeted content to inform and help stop the spread via the official NSW Government Facebook account. The community managers worked hard to answer the community's questions directly, hastily and with empathy. The combination of quality content and community management contributed to the growth we saw over the past nine months (144% increase in followers!).

Click here to watch a snapshot of our COVID-19 efforts and achievements over the last nine months, all made possible by the great collaboration with our government partners.

Looking to the future

It has been a huge year, undoubtedly our biggest. The consolidation model for nsw.gov.au has been tested, showcasing success through the delivery of centralised COVID-19 information on nsw.gov.au.

We are excited to refocus on the nsw.gov.au program and consolidate more sites, more frequently. We have commenced the discovery phase of migrating Emergency NSW, Resilience NSW and Roads and Maritime Services content to nsw.gov.au. In the meantime, we continue to develop our proposed future state architecture.

As a team, we have achieved some amazing things, collaborated on a scale never seen before in Government and done so with the customer in mind. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that together we are stronger- and that we are pretty lucky to live in such a great state.

Find out about the nsw.gov.au program achievements, including milestones, launches and upcoming work.

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