Designing content for Canada.ca: Canada.ca design system
When you design content for Canada.ca, you design for people. The goal is to help people get what they need from the government.
On this page
Focus on the task
First, determine the task at hand: what is it that users are trying to do when they get to the page or set of webpages?
Tasks can be things like:
- apply for a benefit
- get a copy of an official document
- check the weather
- look for jobs
- find out if a business name is available
One question should drive all design decisions: does it help people succeed in completing the task?
- Top tasks for Canada.ca
- How we identify top tasks for Canada.ca (blog post)
- Finding the right method to measure online task success (blog post)
Design for trust
Using a consistent look throughout the Government of Canada web presence is crucial to building a trustworthy experience for people. People need to know they'll find information they can trust.
Use the mandatory elements of the Canada.ca design system to implement this trusted brand.
The mandatory elements you need to follow are:
- Canada.ca domain
- mandatory styles (typography, colours and layouts)
- standard header and footer
- a handful of high-level mandatory templates to establish a consistent institutional presence and the Canada.ca topic tree
Once you've applied this uniform brand, you can still use creativity within the body of the page to come up with the best design to help people complete their tasks.
Design for findability
People can’t succeed at a task if they can’t find where to initiate it.
To improve findability, you can work on:
- internal and external search
Some people will navigate to their task on the Canada.ca site. To support this, making a clear path for people's tasks is crucial. That means planning your navigation structure and taking time to understand what labels will work best for your audience.
- User navigation on Canada.ca
- User-need categories for destination content
- Canada.ca topic tree
- Theme and audience lead departments
- Labelling study: which words work best (blog post)
Internal and external search
Some people will search on Canada.ca or external search engines.
Using the right keywords and organizing your content properly can help improve search results. Adding structured data can also be a useful technique.
Design for comprehension
Once people find the page they need, they have to be able to understand what they read. The way we write and the words we use make an enormous difference.
- Canada.ca Content Style Guide
- Writing principles for web content (Style Guide)
- Plain language (Style Guide)
- Crisis communications content design checklist
- Web readability score - Experimental
Design for usability
Use patterns and layouts that will make it easy for people to complete their tasks. This could be simple text, a filterable table, a button, an interactive checklist or other patterns.
If you can't find an existing pattern or template in the library that does everything you need, you can get creative as long as you respect the mandatory elements of the design system. If your solution works well, we may add it to the Canada.ca design system for others to use when they have similar needs.
Do usability testing to make sure your design really does help people complete their tasks.
Design for accessibility and inclusivity
Accessibility and inclusivity have to be at the forefront of your design. Just like translation, accessibility and inclusivity are non-negotiable.
Make sure your design is accessible as you develop it , not as an after-thought.
The Standard on Web Accessibility requires all GC web pages to meet level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines ( WCAG ) 2.0 requirements.
But this is only the minimum standard: if possible, shoot for AAA and WCAG 2.1 requirements.
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