Doors Open Ontario

Doors Open Ontario Case Study

``Discover the story behind every door``

From April to October each year, communities open the doors to some of our most intriguing and charming heritage sites. Admission is free! The Ontario Heritage Trust – the province's lead heritage agency – invites you to experience these hidden heritage treasures first-hand. Make your travel plans for Doors Open Ontario events in 2012 and explore the rich heritage that awaits you.

This site is maintained by the Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. The Ontario Heritage Trust – the province's lead heritage agency – is dedicated to identifying, protecting, renewing and promoting Ontario's rich and diverse built, cultural and natural heritage that has influenced and continues to shape our society for the benefit of present and future generations.

Communication Strategy

Understanding of Project

The Ontario Heritage Trust’s existing six-year-old CMS-based corporate website ( required a comprehensive refresh to bring it up to Web 2.0 standards and new Government of Ontario website guidelines and directives. The Trust had completed a thorough website assessment over a three-month period. This assessment had identified new required website content, as well as Web 2.0 and CMS functionality/features. The redeveloped website (English and French versions) should allow for future growth and enhanced web functionality, and be able to support node websites that are part of the redeveloped website structure. These unique node websites will support the Trust’s business and program activities.

The purpose of the Doors Open Ontario website redesign is to:

The DOO website requires "a complete overhaul, updating appearance, structure and the way that it manages and presents information and resources. It also requires the addition of various functionalities and features listed below. 

Design requirements: 

To improve usability and enhance opportunities to better interact with its audience; its members, the general public and internally. 
Craft an attractive, professional, clean, compelling, coherent bilingual website to support and strengthen the trust’s message with an interactive Web 2.0 website. 

Additional Requirements: 

  • Implement a robust and user-friendly Content Management System (CMS) that allows for content to be easily updated by staff. This CMS should also support workflows. 
  • Build a streamlined template to make it easy to navigate, expand, maintain and update. 
  • Provide an efficient and cost effective method of delivering current information about the trust and what it has to offer.
  • Carefully consider the users and your goals by implementing usability guides like: sitemaps, bread crumbs, way-finding visuals, and print friendly versions of the web site content to provide users with a positive "accessible” browsing experience.
  • Build the site backward browser compatible while adhering to W3C accessibility standards and multi-platform testing.
  • Optimize the site for search engines and directories – implement searchable content and best practice.
  • Use Web 2.0 technical coding standards fundamental to long term flexibility and wide platform compliance.

Doors Open Ontario website requirements include (From RFS document):
  • enhanced online content submission capability by password‐approved community organizers, including uploading of images
  • ability for community organizers to preview content and update it before submitting it for approval
  • enhanced content editing/updating tools for the Trust’s webmaster
  • enhanced Web 2.0 navigation and features
  • utilizing the existing CMS and supporting database
  • bilingual content
  • geomapping
  • photo galleries
  • robust event calendars
  • custom searching
  • dynamic modules
  • social media links
The redeveloped website (English and French versions) must allow for future growth and enhanced web functionality.
Mandatory Website Redevelopment Deliverables

Update the user section: Enhanced security for login, expanded data entry section to include more checkbox choices, GPS coordinates for better mapping, ability to submit and control images in the photo albums through the online interface, ability to preview site submissions, ability to send images directly with site submissions, etc.
More online resources: Provide new resources and tools in the website’s Resource Centre (a graphic timeline to help community organizers plan their time, interactive graphs and charts that identify different ways to look at Doors Open Ontario statistics, a blog for community organizers to discuss things that work/don’t work at their respective events, a critical path for event development/coordination, checklists, etc.)
Interactive events calendar on the homepage: Since events are based on dates, this feature allows visitors to discover immediately what’s happening this coming week or month, with a click‐through to the Events section for complete details
Improved event pages: More graphics, interactive maps, more information, community information/logos, a legend for icon identifiers, GPS coordinates, etc.
Build your own itinerary: Enable visitors to pick and choose what part of the province, city/town, type of building, date range, style of architecture, family‐friendly, fully accessible – and save the results to a readable and reusable format (e.g., PDF) on their desktop or mobile device (this feature will require GPS coordinates for all sites – we will require a minimum of street addresses); ability to search for sites based on architectural style and/or type (e.g., Gothic and/or train station)
Seasonal templates/navigation bars and Mobile Applications 

Seasonal templates/navigation bars and Mobile Applications: Develop seasonal variations on the templates and navigation, depending on what’s happening with the Doors Open Ontario program at that time of year (e.g., Winter theme with a navigation bar that reflects the current planning stage – or Spring theme with a navigation bar that fits with the launch of the season)
Develop a downloadable app that gives you access to all events and event listings, enables you to map out an itinerary on the go and plan your weekend getaways (uses the power of GPS, social media, a robust search engine, etc.); position this mobile app as "Doors Open Ontario in your pocket” – for smart phones, BlackBerrys, iPhones and tablets
New media section: Provide more information for local and province‐wide media (including statistics, images, logos, quotes, sound‐bites, video, etc.)
Social Media: Provide links to social media, including Facebook, Twitter, etc. to share website content


The primary challenge of this project was to create a clean, concise and structurally sound interface to accommodate an enormous amount of content and a complex navigational structure that includes top, secondary and tertiary level menus. The site also required maximum content management functionality by multiple users, from managing the site’s many event locations, to adding and updating content, to editing and creating images and administering events and news.


The completely redeveloped website was designed with a unique, contemporary, fresh and creative look and feel. The BIG idea behind this website is the photo background which features a selection of pre-selected photos that are randomly delivered and administered by the CMS. The user has the ability to turn off the website if they want to see just the photo. The new site also incorporates an improved and intelligent navigation and content structure that is helped by the custom developed mega-menu web-part. Emphasis and careful consideration was placed upfront during the project's initial phases on a well thought-out UX and wireframe for each template and module.

All functional requirements had also been met with the use of the Kentico Content Management System and several custom web-parts.

Mobile app
Key criteria for choosing Kentico CMS

Kentico Gold Partner 

Implementation – ease of integration and the ability to expand upon from a developer’s perspective.

Flexibility – highly important in order for us to build and manipulate the template based upon our designer’s vision.

Code – the code review proved to be enough for our developers to provide approval in the Kentico CMS as the engine for this project.

Support – The Kentico tech support team has been a tremendous help in the past from previous projects thus influencing us to continue on with them.

Cost – While the CMS is feature rich and functional, it is also very cost-effective, making it an affordable solution to our associations and non-profit clients.

Features – Many well thought-out features that support today’s Web 2.0 solutions.

Technical Specifications:

  • ASP.NET, JQuery and MS SQL Server
  • Google Geomap API
  • Windows Platform
  • Kentico CMS
Client: Ontario Heritage Trust, Ontario Government
Team Members: Charles Chan (Producer), Giuliano Liker (Design and Front End), Bill Tran (Senior Developer), Ankur Bathla (Programming), Shivam Mehta (Programming), Lori Wilson (Front End), David Groth (IA)

Awarded Kentico Site of the Month
Kentico Best Site of the month