The Digitalbusiness.gov.au website provides up-to-date practical guidance for Australian small to medium businesses and community organisations about how to establish or enhance their online presence and use online productivity tools. Topics include establishing a website, e-commerce, social media, search engine optimisation, security, privacy and the mobile web.
The site uses many “Government 2.0” features to ensure that the site stays current and gives people the ability to engage with it easily and in the manner they prefer. Key features include the use of WordPress, static informational content with standard index, themed entry points depending on level of online engagement, search bar, blog, downloadable web banners, Twitter roll, project hashtag for Twitter (#digibiz), social media sharing buttons, RSS feed and content licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia license.
The challenge that led to this innovation was the Australian Government’s objective of getting more Australian businesses and not-for-profit organisations to operate online. As part of its digital economy agenda, the Government is working to ensure that all Australian businesses are effectively engaging online to drive productivity and efficiency gains and to maintain international competitiveness.
Available data indicates that Australian businesses are lagging their international counterparts in terms of having an online presence and engaging in e-commerce. Industry reports also indicate that Australian non-profits are not using technology as effectively as they could.
The Department had two legacy websites (www.e-businessguide.gov.au and www.e-strategyguide.gov.au, launched in 2004 and 2006 respectively) which had become out of date given the technological advancements that had taken place since they were launched. Despite the fact that these websites were outdated, they were still attracting thousands of hits per month. Some of the most popular pages were “what is e-business” and “what is the benefit of email”. This demonstrated that Australian businesses are looking for basic information, from a trusted source, on how to get online.
Department of Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy
8 December 2010
This is an ongoing project.
Options Considered and Approach Taken
The Department considered adding new content to both the legacy sites but eventually decided, given the similarity of much of the content, that it would be best to start one new site, which included all of the information with tailored content pages for non-profits (e.g. for online fundraising).
During the planning stage of creating the website, the Department consulted with small businesses and not-for-profit organisations to better understand their needs and to inform the website’s content development and design.
The Digitalbusiness.gov.au website has been designed as an interactive platform. The Department recognises that technology and its use by Australian businesses and community service organisations is a swiftly evolving field. Rather than being a static website that dates from the moment of launch, the website has been designed to include interactive features like a blog, Twitter roll and Twitter hashtag, as well as being launched in beta.
Through the blog, the Department tracks and updates the website with the latest industry and technology trends. Visitors are kept up to date about trends and their feedback is used to ensure information is effective and relevant. Whenever new blog posts are published or relevant industry developments identified, the Department tweets about these using the #digibiz hashtag. The blog and tweets about new blog posts has also proven useful to drive awareness of the site and give people a reason to visit, or even re-visit, the site.
The website uses WordPress, a GPL v2-licensed platform, which provides it with a user-friendly appearance and allows for easy content management and updating.
The text of the website is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia license so that people can freely copy and improve the content to better suit the needs of the industry and the community.
The site was launched site in “beta” -- the term frequently used by the technology industry to describe products that are released but are still under development – and invites user feedback about how the site can be improved.
Several updates and improvements have been made to the website based on feedback received via the website’s feedback form, email and Twitter. These improvements include:
• creating print styles for the website’s Wordpress theme so users can print clean versions easily;
• adding ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons to the case studies page; and
• a range of technical and content improvements.
The website has demonstrated benefits to end users, even though still in “beta”, through month on month growth in visits and a total number of visits of over 23,000. The website has received positive Twitter feedback, e.g. the user @upshake tweeted “Props to @DBCDEgov, http://www.digitalbusiness.gov.au/ is a winner. Any business not online by the end for 2010 should take note”. The Department has received feedback from visitors that they have been inspired to create their own business websites after reading the information on Digitalbusiness.gov.au.
As part of planning to take the site out of beta, the Department commissioned a User Experience Review. Based on this review, the following improvements to the site and outreach strategy are being considered:
• Seek greater integration across key federal and state government websites;
• Monitor online discussions and sentiments to identify editorial opportunities and facilitate greater online community engagement;
• Increased outreach with business and not-for-profit networks and associations to allow distribution among members of information about the site;
• Consider community functionality to increase user engagement and the establishment of an active group of vocal contributors; and
• Increased awareness raising through social networking sites.
Addition details or information
Digitalbusiness.gov.au has been constructed with the overarching purpose of raising awareness, sharing information and sharing the technology that supports it. The content that populates the website has been structured to enable and encourage use and reuse as much as possible.