What the Web Renewal Initiative (Canada.ca) is still missing

For those of you not familiar with what I am referring to, the Government of Canada (Goc) Web Renewal Initiative aims to streamline the GoC’s web presence through a single central website, Canada.ca .

What exactly does that mean?

Canada.ca features 15 user-centric themes based on the top information and tasks that visitors are looking for. The site is accessible and easy to use on any device. It offers a revamped and comprehensive media/news section with new features as well as an improved search function. Over a period of three years, approximately 1,500 individual websites will be brought together under Canada.ca to make it easier for Canadians to find information.” – Treasury Board Secretariat

Yes, you got that right, one portal website to serve as a starting point for all citizen needs that fall under federal jurisdiction.  This is by no means a new concept. Here it is fully implemented elsewhere across various jurisdictions:

Essentially the purpose here is to stop requiring Canadians to know what each department does, let alone the name of the department itself (especially in lieu of the constant name changes).

Instead, the aim is to shift the focus to the task they are trying to accomplish. In theory this is a great approach, however make no mistake, the work involved in the transition for the Government of Canada is tremendous and should not be underestimated.

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Government of Canada finally adopts RSS feeds by Audience!

I remember going to the www.canada.gc.ca website a few months ago and browsing through the RSS feed links only to find that 90% of them were not active. To my surprise, I decided to give them another try today, and low and behold, they were working! What’s more the Canadian public can now obtain Government of Canada (GOC) RSS news updates by audience, department or province!

All this is great, only there is one problem. Why is nobody promoting this feature? Why is the RSS page link buried in the lower right hand corner of the landing page in small print? In my opinion there should be a direct call to action in a prevalent location. Most people don’t know what RSS means, therefore if that term is to be used, there should at least be a “what is RSS?” link right beside it. Even just two visually pleasing buttons, “Subscribe to our news feeds!” and “What is a news feed?” by its side would do the trick.

All in all though, kudos to the Canada.gc.ca web strategy team for logically organizing the feeds as a first step.