Any organization that has set out to build a new website after having built its presence over time will acknowledge that creating the revised site can be a difficult and monstrous task. When that new site is designed to become the online portal to the government of Canada it is easy to see that it will become controversial and will be a major challenge.
The planned new address for the government of Canada is Canada.ca.
"...To better serve you, the Government of Canada is merging department and agency websites into one unified website: Canada.ca.
We want to make it easier for you to find and access government information and services using any type of device including computers, tablets and smart phones.
Canada.ca is organized by topics and tasks most requested by the public, and our improved search function allows you to quickly find what you’re looking for.
We are working hard to make your online experience as seamless as possible."
This is the description which is posted within the new site explaining the objectives of the effort. Whether this can be successful is going to be a long time in coming but there are many detractors who figure it is a task which will just end up costing a massive amount of money.
According to data posted on the page there have already been over 590 million visits to the new site since it was launched in 2013.
According to a CBC news report the site is actually way behind plan and has already cost over ten times the projected budget.
The project is massive with content coming from what is currently 1500 websites supporting the many departments of government. It is easy to figure there are thousands of pages, actually approximately 17 million, and each department can have different purposes for their specific site. Building these into the new plan will be a super challenging task.
According to some of the press articles I have seen about the project there are many who figure the program is doomed to failure due to conflicting needs of departments, challenges in matching the current utility in a new platform and the multiple stake holders which the task has to interact with.
One thing that we can expect is that if the costs continue to escalate and the time line keeps being extended then it can become a political football for sure.
One the other hand a modern, convenient and effective web presence is critical for the country. When you look at the topics that the information page from the new site says are the most popular among the visits, "The most popular themes include Weather, Immigration, Jobs, Travel and Health." it can be seen that these are critical areas for the government to give good information about.
To date it is reported that only about 10,000 pages have been migrated to the new site so it is easy to see that this is a long term project which is going to take a massive effort to finalize. Is it too much to try to build into one integrated website? Is it inherently so big that failure will become a given?
Since my experience with migrating websites is limited to working with one which had only a few hundred pages I can't easily get my mind around how you attack millions in one set of changes. Certainly seeing a Canadian government site which makes it easy to access the departments and agencies we need to reference on the surface seems like a great potential. Whether they can pull it off is a different matter and one which we can only hope will not end in another massive payout with poor results.
Check out Canada.ca here.