The web has been transformative for the public sector over the last thirty years, and Taiwan has been no exception. From searching legislation online through to paying taxes and booking health appointments at our fingertips, there is no doubt that our lives have improved because of this.
However for public-sector websites in Taiwan the rollout has not happened in the clean and well-planned way we might expect, and this is why I propose that the sector adopt a Common Web Platform along with updated web and accessibility standards.
So what are the problems with the public-sector and government web space right now? The main issues facing these sites are accessibility issues - despite often self-proclaiming the sites are accessible, issues with archiving important data and statistics (like with the Covid-19 caseload or vaccination rollout), navigation jumps between various organizations and departments often leading to 404s, a lack of uniformity and consistency in design and a security infrastructure that has just consisted of patching over flaws until the user experience is reduced to a frustrating experience of three logins, a captcha and a smart-card reader.
So what does a Common Web Platform (or CWP for short) bring to the table to help us combat some of these issues? As well as ensuring a consistent visual style, layout and navigation system for all public sector websites, a well planned CWP can make it easier for sites to comply with web and accessibility standards (which also need a revamp), ensure sites are always device-neutral (mobile friendly) and offer tools for localization (multi-language) out of the box.
The common web platform is a concept originally introduced by the New Zealand government - it is a platform-as-a-service solution for the creation and hosting of government web sites. This means that all web sites created for government easily comply with various regulations such as web and accessibility standards, and public records legislation. All agencies that are chosen through the tender process to provide a web site do so using the common framework and CMS system.
Using a consistent content management system across all sector websites allows for easy collaborative publishing to be handled by multiple team members across different departments with very little on-boarding time. The right content management system will also allow for a better process when it comes to archival of data, keeping information current, and redirection to relevant resources when something is removed. Up to date information for the constituent, archived data for transparency, and no more broken links. When patches and updates are available they can be applied across all web sites on the platform.
A CWP platform is just one tool in the tool box, that will need to be used alongside a well thought out set of web and accessibility standards. Web standards are used to dictate how public sector websites should look and behave, how they handle external links and how they archive their data. Accessibility standards are for defining appearance and behavior not just across mobile and desktop, but also for those with disabilities and using screen readers, high contrast or other non-standard displays or for foreigners accessing services in their native language. Done well and in tandem these things will be key to creating a better public sector internet for Taiwan.
The private sector can also learn lessons from the common web platform and become more aware of how their sites are accessed and crawled for search in order to create a better web experience for their clients.
To discuss building a standards-based, device-agnostic site, contact us today.