Service initiation pages - Canada.ca template

Service initiation pages focus on helping Canada.ca visitors start a task. For some tasks, these pages allow for task completion as well.

While many services involve transactions or an exchange of information between people and program administrators through forms, information may also be considered a service. For example, weather statements, food guides and product safety recalls all provide outcomes for people just as an online form would.

Service initiation pages:

  • support a consistent approach to task initiation and completion, including ordering by steps where required
  • provide people with the information they need before initiating the task offer alternate methods, where applicable, of completing a service; including online, in-person or by mail
  • ensure that experienced clients (those who have previously used a particular service) can quickly initiate a task and choose whether or not to review all of the supporting information offered

On this page

When to use this template

  • Use to initiate a single, standalone task that points to any service delivery channel such as phone, email, mail, etc.
  • Use to start tasks that support services (as defined under the Policy on Service)
  • Use to start tasks that have prerequisites to satisfy before starting the task (such as eligibility criteria or having documents or information in hand)
  • Don’t use for tasks that do not have any prerequisites

How to use this template

Service initiation page template
Template of service initiation page single step with contact and more information showing sections that make up its structure. Read top to bottom and left to right. Specifications detailed below.
Service initiation page template: single step, with contact and “more information”
Template of service initiation page single step with contact and more information showing sections that make up its structure. Read top to bottom and left to right. Specifications detailed below.
Service initiation page template: single step only
Template of service initiation page single step only showing sections that make up its structure. Read top to bottom and left to right. Specifications detailed below.

1: Service/task name

Presents the name of the service/task and the currently selected step

  • Presentation
    • the service/task name must be a unique H1
    • must be the first component on the page
    • for all steps, the service/task name should use the following convention:
      • [Service/task name]: Step #. [Step name]
      • for example, Apply for Employment Insurance: Step 2. Eligibility

2: Institutional byline

Provides a link to the institution, organization or partnering/collaborative arrangement entity responsible for the content of the page

3: Service steps

Shows links to each step in initiating the service and highlights the currently selected step

  • Content
    • use to start tasks that involve complex processes (for example, applying for a grant or funding, registering a business, etc.) or that include detailed prerequisites prior to starting the task (for example, eligibility criteria that must be met, or documents or information that must be in hand)
    • label the sequence of steps similar to the tone and wording used in the following example:
      1. What this service offers
      2. Who is eligible
      3. What you need before you start
      4. How to apply
      5. After you apply
      • Contact us for help
      • More information (background info, related tasks, etc.)
    • when additional unordered pages are included (for example, “more information”):
      • they should not include any information necessary for completing steps in the primary task sequence
      • they should always appear after the numbered steps
      • they should not be numbered
    • or, for simpler, single-step tasks with additional unordered (not numbered) pages, drop the numbers and label pages more like this:
      • How to apply
      • Contact us for help
      • More information (background info, related tasks, etc.)
  • Presentation

4. Service content

Provides pertinent details about the current step in the service

  • Content
    • content for each step must be complete and avoid the use of hyperlinks out of the current sequence to avoid disrupting the task flow.
      • if you must include links to additional information, use a dismissible overlay or a collapsible details/summary element to keep people inside the service initiation page set
    • on pages describing eligibility criteria, consider using the Interactive questions pattern to make the requirements more easily understood
    • keep text short and concise
    • written for a grade 6-8 reading level
  • Presentation
    • appears below the service steps
    • do not hyphenate words at the end of lines; retain ragged right edge for paragraphs and other text blocks
    • use Common design patterns for destination content

5: Service standards and status

Provides service standards people can reasonably expect to encounter under normal circumstances, and indicates the current status of the service, whether performing as expected or not

  • Content
    • introduce service standards with a plain language heading that focuses on what people or clients can reasonably expect under normal circumstances – speak directly to a person. Example:
      • “How long it will take to process your application”
    • limit the text to 1 or 2 sentences for each applicable standard. Combine with an indication of current status where applicable. Examples:
      • “There are no delays expected. Applications may be processed within XX days.”
      • “There is a delay of X days to process applications.
      • “Due to higher than normal volumes, applications may be processed within XX days.”
    • use colour to indicate the current status of the service (green for normal, red for delays or disruptions)
    • this component is intended to meet the Policy on Service requirement to provide service standards on Canada.ca
    • go to the Guideline on Service Management for definitions, characteristics and examples of service standards
    • written for a grade 6-8 reading level
    • keep text short and concise
  • Presentation
    • appears on pages where people will initiate the service (for example, How to apply) and post-application pages (for example, After you apply)
    • appears for each available channel service/task (for example, in “Other ways to apply”)

6: Disclaimer

Provides a link to the service’s terms of use

  • Content
    • use this component if there are applicable terms of use (for example, legal disclaimer, privacy policy)
    • written for a grade 6-8 reading level
  • Presentation

7: Initiation button/link

Serves as a link to the digital service

  • Content
    • provides a link to initiate digital service or a download
    • use only once in the sequence of steps for the current task/service
  • Presentation

8: Other ways to access the service

Provides alternative channels available to access this service, as well as associated service standards and status

  • Content
    • provides contact details, service standards and service status messages for all alternative channels (for example, in-person, telephone and mail options) available to access this service
    • for each alterative channel, include contact information preceded by the applicable service standard and service status messages
    • limit service standards associated with each alternative channel to 1 or 2 sentences
    • written for a grade 6-8 reading level
  • Presentation
    • appears below the initiation link
    • heading is labelled “Other ways to [apply]”
    • subheadings include options like “By phone”, “In person”, and “By mail”
    • may appear inside a collapsible details/summary element when alternate channels represent a small proportion of demand for this service

9: Previous/next links

Provides a means to navigate to the next or previous page from the bottom of a page

User navigation diagram
Diagram of how to navigate to service initiation pages on Canada.ca. Text version below:
Text version

Service initiation pages can be accessed from Canada.ca topic pages and institutional profiles pages.

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