We recently launched an updated design for Canada.ca. We wanted to tell you a bit about why we made this update and what led to what you see now.

Canada.ca launched in December 2013 as the flagship website of the Government of Canada. It serves as a single window into services and information from across the federal landscape. It represents the trusted digital government brand for Canadians and others worldwide.

Canada.ca hadn’t had a significant update to its design in over five years. In 2019, the Digital Transformation Office led an exercise to modernize and simplify the trusted digital brand, based on evidence and testing with over 4000 people.

Before and after image of the Canada.ca homepage
A comparison of the old Canada.ca design (left) and the updated design (right).

What we focused on

The design update focused on the standard Canada.ca template for public-facing web pages that provide services and information. As such, it included the following elements:

  • a reworked menu that highlights topics and most requested links for all 15 of the main site categories
  • a new home page that acts as a hub for user tasks across Canada.ca
  • new typography and fonts to enhance readability
  • updated colours with improved contrast

Designing based on evidence

The DTO interviewed 10 teams from various institutions to understand their challenges working within the Canada.ca design framework. We also led design workshops involving stakeholders from 9 institutions.

DTO staff led the research and testing, while the core design team included talented designers from:

  • Canada Revenue Agency
  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
  • Shared Services Canada

We engaged key stakeholders frequently throughout the project. In November 2018, we consulted the entire GC web community on the final design prototypes.

We did extensive testing and evaluation of multiple iterations of the updated design:

  • 80 online usability tests
  • 3000 first click tests
  • 1400 sentiment and perception tests
  • 7 eye-tracking tests

Overall, we saw that participants were comfortable using the new home page and menu. They perceived the final design as modern, open, helpful and credible. As expected, when navigating the prototype, most people were happy to click links on the page. They only resorted to the menus or site search when they didn’t immediately see what they were looking for.

Implementation and next steps

We worked with our implementation partners at Service Canada to launch the design update for all pages on the Managed Web Service (MWS) on January 31, 2019. This included 18 organizations that account for about 70% of user demand for web content from across the Government of Canada.

This design update sets the stage for more frequent iterative improvements to Canada.ca based on real-world evidence. Now that the design update is live, follow-up activities are already underway.

These include:

  • monitoring and evaluating performance, making further improvements where needed
  • working with several institutions to pilot application of the Canada.ca design to sites that are not on the MWS
  • updating specific patterns and templates in the Canada.ca design system, based on what what we learned from redesigning the home page

In the coming months, we plan to:

  • establish targets and instructions for departments and agencies to apply the Canada.ca design across the GC web presence
  • develop design solutions for specialized situations beyond the scope of this update, such as quasi-judicial organizations, marketing and promotional campaigns, and transactional services
  • ensure continuous improvement of Canada.ca based on research and evidence, such as ideas generated from ongoing content improvement projects

We want to hear from you

Let us know what you think about the Canada.ca design update. Email us at cds.dto-btn.snc@servicecanada.gc.ca or tweet using the hashtag #Canadadotca.