Web strategy overview

Work is underway to transform the provincial government’s online presence of over 150 domains, 1.9 million pages and 75,000 PDFs into a cohesive experience that better meets users’ needs.

The updated and improved novascotia.ca focuses on:

  • explaining what government is doing and why
  • providing clearer, easier access to government programs and services
  • sharing information that individuals or businesses are looking for

Over 3.2 million people viewed novascotia.ca in 2017, and 73% of them were looking for a specific task or topic. Following user flow testing, user research and web content, design and development best practices, we’re arranging the content by topics and tasks so it’s easier for users to find what they’re looking for. The site uses clear and concise language that users can easily understand. It also sets a new standard for accessibility and is more accessible to everyone, whether they’re using a computer, a phone or assistive technology.

Project scope

The project applies to all of government’s public-facing websites, including individual department sites and over 150 department-related domains. Websites that are out of scope of this project include sites for legislative offices and entities that are arms-length from government such as agencies, boards or commissions (like artsns.ca, gamingns.ca and novascotia.com) and often have nongovernment URLs. Department intranet and extranet sites are also excluded from this project.

Project phases and timeline

The first phase involves publishing web content. Content from five departments -- Service Nova Scotia, Business, Finance and Treasury Board, Internal Services and Communications Nova Scotia – has moved onto the new site. Other departments are working on finalizing their content, which will be updated and will go online in phases through 2018 and 2019. Government will continue to work on redeveloping transactions (like forms and web applications), documents, charts, visuals and other web assets. This first ‘publishing content’ phase includes “starter” web pages for current transactions and documents. The information on these pages makes it easy for users to understand where and how they can complete a task. We’re also developing an ongoing web maintenance program to make sure content is accurate and up-to-date moving forward

Content and structure

We’re applying content criteria to remove outdated, inaccurate and unneeded content to make sure that only the information users need is online. Because most users come to government’s sites looking for a specific program or service, we organized the content with their needs in mind. The updated site uses plain language that the public can easily understand. The design of the site is clean and simple, and optimized to improve access for everyone, regardless of their ability, device, situation, or location. On the updated site, information is published in one place, and users can find it by topic, program or service name, department or by searching. Users won’t have to understand government’s organizational structure to find what they’re looking for.

Retiring old sites

When a department launches on the updated site, the old site will be retired and archived offline. URLs from the old sites will redirect to the same content on the updated site whenever possible. If a piece of content from the old site wasn’t included on the updated site, the user will be redirected to the department that owns it.


The improved site also sets a new standard for user accessibility, whether they’re using a computer, a mobile phone or assistive technology. Many of the PDFs online aren’t accessible to users with disabilities. Web publishing requirements and standards will be reviewed and updated as part of government’s accessibility plan for Nova Scotia.