This site aims to assist government employees and external developers in the process of building web sites and applications for the Government of Nova Scotia. Following the steps outlined and reading all of the information will go a long way towards making your project go more smoothly.
There are a number of steps you need to take when you are sure that a project will move beyond the conceptualization stage. Your departmental/agency webmaster is a good resource for assistance with some of these steps.
- One of the first steps is to make sure that your departmental Communications Director/Officer/Advisor is aware of your project. A full list of communications contacts is available here. (intranet only)
- Nominate someone involved with the project to be the contact person for the project. This person will be the main point of contact and will liaise as needed with any external developers, your web personnel, and internal entities such as your Corporate Service Units IT Divisions (CSU IT) and CITO (Corporate Information Technology Operations - part of the Chief Information Office. From the Management Guide, "CITO is responsible for the provision and management of government-wide information technology and telecommunications services...CITO delivers support services to all ...CSU IT divisions."). The Communications Technology section of CNS can assist you with this.
- Make sure that you have departmental approval for spending any funds that might be required. Ensure that you have a Ministerial Approval Request Form filled out for any expenditures more than $5,000 (form is available from your administrative team).
- Contact CNS by filling out our Service Request form (intranet only). The Request Form is the first point of contact with our Client Services team and will help us to see the goals and needs of the project so that we can ensure you get all the services needed. Additionally we can use this information to get you in contact with qualified external developers who are on the CNS Standing Offer. CNS can process any incoming invoices and charge them back to your department.
- Learn about the government website standard look and feel. You can see this on websites like CNS and the main government home page. The elements in the are described in this Style Guide which is available in PDF (intranet only).
- Searching for the right web address for your project? See the Domain name guide for help and please consult with the Communications Technology section of CNS.
- Make sure you determine all Privacy and French-language Services requirements (see below for more information).
- Determine how the website or application will be updated. Ideally you have internal web personnel who will do this. If you do not have internal web personnel you should decide if you will need to use a Content Management System to assist with updates. You can contact the Communications Technology section of CNS for help with this decision.
Compliance with Privacy Legislation
You are advised to consult with your departmental web personnel on the following.
- Discuss with your departmental/agency Information Access and Privacy Officer to see if there is a need for a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA).
- Ensure your website will be compliant with the privacy requirements as explained on the CIO intranet.
- Determine if the website or application will be collecting any personal information (beyond the server logs capturing IP addresses as happens in all HTTP requests).
- Make sure no personal information will be stored outside of Canada, or by a US owned company operating in Canada unless an approved PIA has been done and appropriate safeguards instituted.
- Make sure pages are secured (SSL turned on) for all pages that enable logging in, and/or that collect personal information.
- On all pages that collect information there must be a notice explaining a) how the information will be handled and b) how to obtain access to or correct the personal information submitted.
- All pages must have a link to the privacy statement.
- All pages setting a permanent cookie must provide a link to the cookie notice. See "Cookies Information" and "Cookies Information for gov.ns.ca" for more details.
Technical and best practices
You might wish to consult with your departmental web personnel on some of the following.
- CITO needs some basic information about your plans before they can provide technical support, including server space for development and "live" sites. Coordinate with your web personnel to make sure CITO gets the information they need. Use the CITO new site questionnaire here. It is recommended that whenever possible all sites and applications are hosted on government servers.
- To improve the accessibility, usability, and findability of your websites and applications, make sure all developers follow these basics steps at a minimum.
- Follow the Dos and Don'ts of hosting a government site.
- Request WAN General Approval for new applications and services from the Security Authority using the WAN Security intranet.
- If you need a secure connection for your website or application because, for example, you will be collecting personal information, then you need to purchase or arrange for SSL connections by sending in a request to CITO at email@example.com
- If you will be using a private sector contractor that will need access to the WAN, you will need to sponsor their connection. To begin this process, read the documentation and fill out the form found here.
Tests to do during development
Your departmental/agency web personnel can assist with some of the following.
- Check X/HTML code validity using the W3C validator
- Check accessibility with:
- Enhanced features. Make sure all important features/services/information are available with the following disabled:
- Check accessibility and usability of the site/application with a screen reader such as JAWS.
Usability with various browsers
For desktop browsers check with
- Internet Explorer 6, 7, & 8
- Firefox 15 or newer
- Safari 5 or newer
- Google Chrome 20+
- Opera 10+
For mobile browsers check usability with the W3C's Web on the Move. Another checker that can also provide simulations of what your site will look like is mobiReady. You will need to determine how important the mobile audience segment is to your project. It is possible you might wish to consider having separate pages/applications to enable easier mobile use.
If possible check with the following devices:
- BlackBerry devices (OS 4.2+)
- iPhone 3S +
- Android devices
- Opera Mini devices
- Nokia devices
We recommend having a look at all of the material on the Web Guide
site to get a more complete picture of the entire process. The other information can be accessed via the navigation menu.
Please note that while we will take reasonable steps to ensure the information contained here is accurate and up to date, we cannot promise that this will always be so as procedures and policies do change from time to time.