Ontario Arts Council Website and logo

Ontario Arts Council Website Revitalization 

Ontario Arts Council is an agency of the Ontario Government. For more than 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2015-16, the Ontario Arts Council funded 1,676 individual artists and 1,125 organizations in 209 communities across Ontario for a total of $50.5 million.

Goals

The focus of this project is to plan, refine, develop and deploy a new and improved arts.on.ca website to deliver a superior user experience that is Accessible, Bilingual and integrates with the Nova grants management system while powered by an easy-to-use, robust Windows based Content Management System.

Challenges

OAC’s main challenge was to integrate an online grants system and its data to the Kentico-backed public facing website. This was to resolve their main point which was the user experience and accessibility to the core content of their website, granting program and application content, and how it was tedious and inefficient. The main group of users, current and potential grant program applicants, was not well served in how this information was presented. With the new online grants system, the focus and challenge was to make it easier for users to find the granting program data, sourced by the third party system. Other challenges included a website design that was not responsive, ineffective user flows to access different content types such as news, publications, grant results.

Solution

The solution itself included a complete site redesign, integration with a third party grants management system called Smart Simple, a new improved search function that searched against this grants data, and many custom page types with its own search capabilities. Also in consideration was that the redesign, along with the functionality, would need to be compliant against the guidelines defined in WCAG level 2.0 AA.
The third party grants system data was integrated through a custom synchronization script leveraging the CMS scheduled task module and the custom tables. With this approach, this allowed flexibility in the solution in terms of the search functionality. The Kentico API allowed the solution to be extended easily as pages in the CMS were linked to records in the Custom table by allowing editors to link the two with a dropdown menu selection via a customized form control.
For AODA compliance, Kentico provides the capacity for WCAG validation for editors to validate whether their content is AODA compliant. AODA compliance requires WCAG level 2.0 AA compliance. In addition, the CMS provides the capacity to add alt text for links and images, appropriate headers in the content area without compromising the design.
As for improved user experiences and automation processes, workflow, versioning, localization, page templates, page types, widgets, among others, helped make the solution quicker to customize and extend as these were all modules that were available by default in Kentico.

Results

The immediate feedback from stakeholders and public users has been overwhelmingly positive.  Its too early to tell what the actual data is regarding conversions and bounce rates. The key reasons for the redesign were to integrate the newly implemented Grants Management system and to be fully AODA AA compliant as mandated. Both these objectives were achieved along with successfully enhancing the design and improving User Experience.

The site won an award as one of the Top 10 Kentico websites

Performance Improvements

As a result of implanting Kentico for the rebuild we were able to achieve significantly improve page speed and performance. Straight A’s for all key indicators from Webpagetest.org.

oac performance grade

Key criteria for using Kentico EMS

OAC chose Kentico for its ease of use for content editors and administrators. The ability to compare English and French content for the same page, to update content once and have it applied throughout the website, to apply an advanced workflow that ensured both English and French content are updated before it being published, and other core Kentico features like EMS, forms, CMS TREE layout, localization, made it easy for OAC to choose Kentico over other products.

Technical Specifications:

ASP.NET, JQuery and MS SQL Server
Kentico EMS version 9
Smart Simple Grants Management

Team Members:

Project Manager: Charles Chan
UX and Design: Matthew Richmond
Lead Developer: Sean Byart
Ontario Arts Council Website design and development

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