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Website Design for Government Agencies

Government agency website design is usually pretty awful. Many government website designs seem to be based off a standard template that reminiscent of the 1990s. The user interface design is often tired, old and non-responsive. Not too long ago Parachute Design landed an opportunity to break the cycle for the Environment and Land Tribunals agency within the government of Ontario. In our first contact with the government agency, our Toronto web design company entertained the request to develop a government intern’s attempt at website design on using a free website builder. This type of web design project is not something we would undertake but took the opportunity to approach the conversation in a different light. Instead of politely declining the work, we put together a short presentation on the best practices for government agency web design and presented our six-step web design approach and experience to the board.

By the end of the hour-long meeting, everyone sitting around the boardroom table was converted and raring to throw out the old templated approach and explore a new custom website design for the government agency.

To explore one of our best web designs for government agencies, please take a few moments to have a look at our Government of Ontario (ELTO) web design case study.

To further understand how we turned this project into a success and learned more about what makes a government agency website design successful continue reading.

Best Practices for Government Agency Website Design

Multi-language Website Design

All government agency website design is required to be completely bilingual in Canada. Our Toronto web designers focus on both the front end design and backend WordPress web development early on in the project to create a fluid, intuitive multi-language website design.

Our web design team focused on creating a friendly user interface design that was flexible enough to accommodate the longer French translations and a website navigation system that was able to adapt to the constant evolution of multi-tiered menus in both French and English.

Our web development team took aim at the custom WordPress backend of the website and began laying the groundwork to ensure the page editor was bilingual and able to switch back and forth between languages to ensure website management was quick and easy.

Web Design for Ontario Government

Intuitive Website Navigation Design

A well-executed website navigational system is essential for any website. However, more stringent rules and guidelines are in play for government agency websites. To ensure our website design exceeds expectations and requirements, we first review web analytics data from the existing website to understand how visitors are currently using the website. This strategy also offers the opportunity to identify weak points in the current website navigation or page architecture so that we can create design solutions in our site mapping and wireframing stages before tackling the new government agency website design.

Control the Colour Palette and User Interface Design

Government website design is not cutting edge, and it’s not flashy in any sense, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful in its own. The key to pushing through a government agency website design that is current and trend-setting for the industry is subtlety. Approaching the user interface design with a subtle colour palette and soft or unobtrusive design elements allows the web designer to break free from the tired and mundane layout other government agencies use. This approach comes across as less of a departure from the norm and is better received by the approval committee

Inclusive Website Imagery

Website design for government agencies also poses challenges with sourcing the perfect stock photography and ensuring there is an acceptable balance between all ages, ethnicities and cultures within Ontario and Canada alike. When creating a project plan for a government website design, we often include additional time allocated to sourcing imagery throughout the new user interface. Deploying a website that is truly representative and inclusive of all people governed within the region is essential to communicate with web users, earning trust and creating a relationship between the government agency and the audience.

Responsive and Accessible Website Design

Responsive website design is an absolute must-have for government agencies. In addition to offering a flexible interface that can adapt to all contemporary screen sizes and devices, government agency websites are often used extensively in communities with low internet bandwidth or scientists working in remote areas of the country. Understanding the audience and the limitations of their region or technology must be a crucial part of early website design strategy to ensure that the website is accessible and usable in all the different scenarios that the public will access it.

Website Compliance

The most important best practice for government agency web design is website compliance. All websites and digital properties owned or managed by government agencies are under the microscope. All of the best practices we’ve discussed so far played a critical role in the design of a government website that passes the most stringent accessibility compliance tests. Not only must the website be beautifully designed, inclusive of the entire demographic, and responsive, it must be accessible to anyone, anywhere, with any disability or impairment.

About Parachute Design

To inquire about our detailed government agency web design methodology or to learn more about our best practices for government agency website design, please contact our web design experts in Toronto at 416-901-8633. To request a website design proposal for your government agency, please complete our online quote request form.


Government of Ontario

A look at our custom website design for the Ontario Government with emphasis on performance and strict accessibility compliance.

  • Website Architecture & Strategy
  • UX (User Experience) Design
  • Responsive Design & Build
  • Art Direction & Consulting
  • Custom WordPress Development
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Undertaking web design for government agencies can be complex without the right experience. Our team of professional web designers can help you plan and execute your next web design project.

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